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Volume 6 No 1 Spring 1985 

Grace Theological Journal 

Published Semiannually by 

Grace Theological Seminary 

200 Seminary Dr. 

Winona Lake, IN 46590 

Editorial Board: Homer A. Kent, Jr., President 

Jerry Young, Chairman of the Board of Trustees 
E. William Male, Dean 

Editorial Committee: John C. Whitcomb, Editor 

John J. Davis, Assistant Editor 

Associate Editors: 
D. Wayne Knife, Old Testament 
Charles R. Smith, Theology 
John A. Sproule, New Testament 
Donald L. Fowler, Book Reviews 
David L. Turner, Managing Editor 

Weston W. Fields, Business Manager 

David L. Zapf, Editorial Assistant 
Sue Poyner, Secretary 

Grace Theological Journal began semiannual publication in 1980 superceding the 
earlier Grace Journal which was published by the Seminary from 1960-73. GTJ is 
indexed in Christian Periodical Index, Elenchus Bibliographicus Biblicus, New Testa- 
ment Abstracts, Old Testament Abstracts, Religion Index One, and Religious and 
Theological Abstracts. 

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telephone (219) 372-5123. 

Manuscripts for consideration should be sent in duplicate to David L. Turner, Grace 
Theological Journal, Box 364, Grace Theological Seminary, 200 Seminary Dr., 
Winona Lake, IN 46590. All articles should be typewritten, double-spaced, on one side 
of the page only, and should conform to the requirements of the Journal of Biblical 
Literature style sheet; see JBL 95 (1976) 331-46. One exception should be noted, 
namely, that GTJ prefers the use of the original scripts for Greek and Hebrew, in 
contradistinction to JBL. 

ISSN 0I98-666X. Copyright ® 1985 Grace Theological Seminary. All rights reserved. 



Volume 6 No 1 Spring 1985 


The Classification of Infinitives: A Statistical Study .... 3-27 


A Multiplex Approach to Psalm 45 29-48 


The Text of John 3:13 49-66 


Rosh: An Ancient Land Known to Ezekiel 67-89 


The Semantics and Exegetical Significance of the Object- 
Complement Construction in the New Testament .... 91-112 


Book Reviews (see inside back cover) 1 13-160 


David Alan Black 

Dept. of New Testament, Biola University, 13800 Biola Ave., La 
Mirada, CA 90639 

James L. Boyer 

Professor Emeritus, Grace Theological Seminary, 200 Seminary 
Dr., Winona Lake, IN 46590 

Richard D. Patterson 

Division of Biblical Studies, Liberty Baptist College, Lynchburg, 
VA 24506 

James D. Price 

Old Testament Dept., Temple Baptist Theological Seminary, 
1815 Union Ave., Chattanooga, TN 37404 

Daniel B. Wallace 

8918 44th Avenue West, Mukilteo, WA 98275 

Grace TheologicalJournal 6.1 (1985) 3-27 



James L. Boyer 

Detailed information is provided here regarding the various 
functional classifications of the infinitive, much of it never before 
generally available. Special attention is given to the listing and classifi- 
cation of governing words; the semantic interrelationship between 
concepts which use the infinitive, even when they occur in differing 
structural patterns; the long- debated question of the "subject" of the 
infinitive with an attempt to state clearly what actual usage indicates; 
and a brief, rather negative discussion of the use and non-use of the 
article with infinitives. 


STARTING with a listing generated by a gramcord' computerized 
search of all infinitives occurring in the UBS Greek NT, a detailed 
study was made. Each infinitive was analyzed for classification, the 
"subject" of the infinitive, the use or non-use of the article, tense, 
voice, and the word governing the infinitive. This information was 
then sorted and counted in many pertinent combinations by the com- 
puter to provide the material basis and statistical data for this study. 
Three major areas are explored in this article: the functional classifica- 
tion of infinitives, the problem of the "subject" of the infinitive, and 
the use or non-use of the article with infinitives. 

'a preliminary report on this program of computer-assisted analysis of the Greek 
NT may be seen in my article, "Project Gramcord: A Report," GTJ 1 (1980) 97-99. 
GRAMCORD is presently being directed by Paul A. Miller, 18897 Deerpath Rd., Wild- 
wood, IL, 60030, Phone: 312-223-3242. 



Subject Infinitives 

An infinitive may function as the subject of a sentence or clause, 
i.e., the doer of the action or that to which the state or condition of 
the verb is predicated. The abstract character of the infinitive as a 
verbal noun gives an impersonal character to the verb of such sen- 
tences. This use of the infinitive is also common in English, although 
usually in English the pronoun 'it' is used to signal a delayed subject 
and the infinitive subject follows the verb; "it is necessary to go" is 
more natural to the English ear than "to go is necessary," although 
the infinitive functions as subject in either case. 

Subject of Impersonal Verbs 

Luke 20:22 provides an example of this usage: e^saxiv f\\iac, 
Kaioapi cpopov 5oCvai f\ ou; / 'Is it lawful for us to pay taxes to 
Caesar?'^ The subject infinitive most frequently occurs with certain 
verbs which are either always or predominantly impersonal. The verbs 
actually found with an infinitive subject in the NT are 58i^ (120 
times),'' ylvojiai when it means 'it came to pass that' (36 times), ^ 
e^eoTiv (29 times), 5oK8a) when it is impersonal (5 times),^ auficpepei 
and a)(pe>.8i (2 times each), and eight others (1 time each).' One 
example^ shows an infinitive without a governing verb expressed; the 
sense suggests that Set be supplied. The infinitive in this usage is 
almost always anarthrous. Only once^ is an article used, the genitive 
ToO. The infinitive follows its verb 95% of the time. 

Subject of a Predicative Verb 

The subject infinitive also appears with the copula eljii which 
predicates some quality or condition to the infinitive subject. This, 
too, is an impersonal construction, but differs from the previous one 
in that the impersonal verbs contain their own predication (it is lawful. 

'Unless otherwise stated, translations of the Greek text of the NT are from the 
New American Standard version (NASB). 

^The actual forms used are 5ei (92), eSei (22), Sei] (2), and 5etv (4). 

''The number of occurrences listed in parentheses here and throughout this article 
counts the number of infinitives occurring with each verb, not the occurrences of the 
verb. Frequently one verb governs a series of infinitives. 

Vivetai (1), ^yeveto (32), yevriTai (2), yevoiTO (1). 

'doKei (1), e5o^e (4). 

'(ive|}r|, dTiOKeixai, (i7ro)LeijieTai, tvMKZxm, eTtpertev, KoGTiKev, ouv^Pr], xpr\. 

^Rev 13:10, dnoKTavGfjvai. 

'Acts 10:25. 

boyer: classification of infinitives 5 

it is necessary) whereas these state the predication as a predicate 
complement, either adjective, noun, or otherwise. An example is found 
in Mark 9:5: 'Pa(3pi, KaXov eoxiv 'f]\iac, wSe elvai / 'Rabbi, it is good 
for us to be here'. In addition to the 57 instances where the predica- 
tive verb is present,"^ there are 31 instances where it is not expressed 
but clearly must be supplied. 

The predicate complement may be an adjective (71 times)," a 
noun (7 times), '^ a participle (7 times), '^ or the genitive personal 
pronoun, v[i(bv (1 time). In two instances"* infinitives seem to re- 
quire eaxiv to be supplied in the sense 'it exists', with no predica- 
tion being stated. The infinitive is anarthrous 75 times; it has the 
nominative article (to) 10 times, the genitive (toO) twice, and the 
accusative (to) once. The frequencies for word order when the predic- 
ative verb is present are Predicate/ Verb/ Infinitive (46 times). Verb/ 
Predicate/ Infinitive (7 times), and Infinitive/ Verb/ Predicate (4 times). 
When no predicative verb is expressed, the infinitive usually follows 
the predicate complement (25 of the 31 total). 

Subject of Passive Verbs 

Infinitives which would have been the object of a verb in the 
active voice may become the subject of its passive transform (22 
instances). For example, Matt 13:11 has T^iiv 5e5oTai yvwvai xa 
IxuoTripia / 'To you it has been granted to know the mysteries'. The 
verbs found in this construction are 5i5(0|ii (9), xP^l^ott^iC^ (4), ^Tti- 
TpeTTO) (3), ypdcpco (3), xctpiCojiai (2), and auiKptovso) (1). The infinitive 
is anarthrous 20 times; the other two have the nominative to. 

Subject of Other Verbs 

In light of the fact that the infinitive is a verbal noun and can 
function as a subject, it is rather surprising that, apart from the three 
categories previously listed, there are only three other instances of a 
subject infinitive in the NT. They are Matt 15:20 (to Se avmroK; 
X^poiv (payeiv ov Koivoi tov avOpconov / 'to eat with unwashed 
hands does not defile a man') and twice in Rom 7:18 (to yap 0£>t8iv 

The forms used are eotiv, f\v, f\, and el'ev. 

"koXov (24), euKOTtcoTEpov (8), KpeiTTOv (5), dSuvatov (4), aioxpov (4), SiKaiov 
(4), dvayKaiov (4), (i9e|iiTov (3), Suvatov (2), laaKdpiov (2), TtepioooTepov (2), S|a6v 
(2), and the following with one each: dvevSeKTOv, dvayKaioTepov, dpeoTov, fi^iov, 
5ijaKo>.ov, oKvripov, nepiaoov, OK^ripov and cpoPepov. 

'^dvdyKri (2), eQoq (2), and one each of dpnayiiov, XpioToq, and KepSoq. 

"e^ov (3), 5eov (2), and npenov (2). These participles may be predicate adjectives 
or perhaps periphrastic; note that each is a participle of an impersonal verb. 

"2 Cor 8:11 and Phil 1:22. 


7rapdK8iTai |ioi, to Se Kaiepyd^eaGai to Ka^iov ou / 'to will is present 
with me, but to perform the good is not [present]').'^ All three have 
the nominative article to. 

Subject Infinitives 

By far the most frequent usage of the infinitive is in the predicate 
of a sentence — either as a complement of the verb, part of an object 
clause, or as the direct object itself. Here the basis for classification 
centers in the character of the verb which governs the infinitive. 

The Complementary Infinitive 

Many verbs take an infinitive as a complement to their meaning; 
in a sense, the infinitive functions as the direct object of the verb. The 
interdependence of the verb and the infinitive is often so close that it 
forms a verb phrase or "chain." Verbs of this type are sometimes 
called catenative. The chain may be composed of two, three, or more 
links; the last one is always an infinitive or participle and the preced- 
ing ones must all be catenative. 

At least 72 verbs are followed by 892 complementary infinitives 
in the NT. Most of these verbs have a corresponding verb in English 
which also takes an infinitive complement. There is little agreement 
among grammarians in classifying these verbs, so the attempt made 
here must be a tentative and rather hesitating one. This study classi- 
fies six categories of verbs that take complementary infinitives. 

/. Verbs Expressing Will or Desire, and their Opposites. The 
complementary infinitive is found with verbs meaning 'to will, to 
wish, to desire' (0e^(o [130], poi3?iO)iai [39], ETtiGujieco [9], and ^tii- 
71008(0 [4]) and the closely associated idea 'to choose, to prefer, to be 
pleased', expressed by eCSoKeco (9), auveuSoKeco (2), aipeo) (2), cpi?ie(o 
(2), and (ppovTi^co (1). An opposite sense, 'to be ashamed' (eTiaiaxuv- 
o|iai [2] and aiaxuvo^iai [1]) also takes the complementary infinitive. 

2. Verbs Expressing an Activity to the End that Something Shall 
or Shall Not be Done. This rather cumbrous heading is taken from 
Smyth'^ and includes a great number and variety of verbs which take 
a complementary infinitive. Some express 'attempt, effort, force' 
(^riTEO) [35], ao|iPou?iei3(i) [2], and once each: dycovi^to, dva|ii|ivr|aKa), 
dvaTteOo), daKeo), 87iii^r|Te(o, (pi>.0Ti|i£0|iai, 7reipdo|iai, and (,r\k6(ii). 

"This is a literal translation. NASB uses the gerunds "the wishing" and "the 
doing" to translate the Greek infinitives. 

'^Herbert W. Smyth, A Greek Grammar CNew York: American Book Co., 1916) 

boyer: classification of infinitives / 

Some express the concept of 'undertaking' or 'accomplishing' {p.eXX(£) 
[93], dpxo^iai [92], TO>.|ida) [13], Tioieto [12], kivSuveuw [4], Tipoa- 
TiGriiii [3], ^vepyeco [2], Ttpoevdpxojiai [2], and one each: ^Toi|id^a), 
7rappr|aid(^co, Kpo)^a(iPdvto, 7rpo|^8?ieTdco, and npoonoieo^iai). Other 
verbs express the opposite idea, 'to thwart, to hinder, to delay' (okvecd 
[12], (popeoiitti [4], eyKonxd) [3], tmoGXEXXco [3], and one each: il,a- 
Ttopeo), eveSpeuto, Kaxexo), and xpovi^to). 

3. Verbs of Permitting and Allowing, and their Opposites. These 
include ^TtixpeTro) (16), d(piri|ii (15), edco (4), Xayxdvo) (1) and the 
opposite sense of refusing, forbidding, preventing': K(jo>li3(o (10), nap- 
aiT£(o (2), dTuapveo^ai (1), and apveoiiai (1). 

4. Verbs Denoting Ability and Know-How. 'Ability' is expressed 
most frequently by 5i3va|iai (213); other verbs related to this concept 
are iaxi3(o (17), e^iaxuto (2), and Kaiiaxuto (2). Also related are 515(0^1 
in the sense 'give [the ability] to' (11), exw in the sense 'have [the 
ability] to' (23), euKaipeco 'have time to' (3), euoSooiiai 'to succeed, to 
get along well' ( 1 ), and eupioKco 'to find [by study] ' ( 1 ). 'Know-how' is 
represented by oi5a (13), yivwoKco (2), |iav0dvco 'to learn how to' (9), 
and nueofiai (4). 

5. Verbs denoting Fitness, Propriety, Custom. Verbs used in 
this sense are d^ioco 'to consider worthy' (3), the passive of Kata^ioo) 
in the sense 'be counted worthy' (2), and el'coGa 'be accustomed to'. 
Ai5o)|ii in the sense 'to give [the privilege] to' (5) also belongs here. 

6. Verbs Denoting Need or Obligation. This class is composed 
of ocpeRo) 'to be obligated to, to owe' (25), along with 5i5to|^i in the 
sense 'to give [the need] to' (2). 

Less then 2% of the complementary infinitives have the article. 
Eight are found with the genitive article and eight with the accusative, 
compared to 878 anarthrous complementary infinitives in the NT. 

Infinitive in Indirect Discourse 

When an infinitive stands as the object of a verb of mental 
perception or communication and expresses the content or the sub- 
stance of the thought or of the communication it is classified as being 
in indirect discourse.'^ Compared with the preyious category, the list 

The term "indirect discourse" is used in various ways by grammarians, from a very 
broad sense (such as A. T. Robertson, A Grammar of the Greek New Testament in the 
Light of Historical Research [Nashville: Broadman, 1934] 1029, 1031ff.) to the strict 
sense of only indirectly quoted words (as in H. P. V. Nunn, A Short Syntax of New 
Testament Greek [Cambridge: Cambridge University, 1951] 97-99). My usage here will 


of verbs found with this usage of the infinitive is a Uttle larger (82 
versus 72) but the number of infinitives involved is much smaller (362 
versus 892). I offer here an attempt to classify these verbs. 

/. Verbs of Mental Perception: Recognizing, Knowing, Under- 
standing. An example of this usage is found in Heb 11:3: IliaTEi 
vooO|i8v KaxripTiaGai touc; aitovac; ^fiiiaxi GeoO / 'By faith we under- 
stand that the worlds were prepared by the word of God'. The infini- 
tive KaTTipiiaGai expresses the content of the mental perception — what 
was understood. Verbs found with this usage of the infinitive are 
otKoufo (2), KaTa>.a|iPdva) (1), voew (1), oi5a (1), and GecDpeco (1). 

2. Verbs of Mental Perception: Thinking, Believing, Feeling, 
Deciding. For this usage see, e.g., Luke 2:44: vo|iiaavTE(; 58 autov 
elvai ^v Tfi auvo5ia / 'His parents supposed Him to be in the cara- 
van'. The infinitive eivai tells what they thought — that he was in 
the caravan. The following verbs are used in this category: 5ok8co 
(29), Kpivo) (12), vo|ii^CL) (10), X,oyi^o|iai (6), 7i8i0co (6), Ti6r||ii in 
the sense 'to make up one's mind, to resolve' (4), SoKind^w (2), 
^7ti>.avGdvo|iai (2), oiofiai (2), kioteijco (2), ouvTi68nai (2), uTiovoeco 
(2), fiY80|iai, and one each: opi^co, itpoopi^co, 7rpoxi98|iai, oiripi^co, 
and uKOKpivo^iai. 

3. Verbs of Mental Perception: Hoping, Expecting. 1 Tim 3:14 
provides an example of this category: sX,7ti^(ov s?i6eiv npoq ae ev 
xdxei / 'hoping to come to you before long'. The infinitive ^>^0eiv 
expresses the substance of this hope — the thing he hoped for. Verbs 
used are tXTiiC,(i) (13), TrpooSoKdco (2), and Ttpooexco (2). 

4. Verbs of Communication: Indirect Statement. For an example 
see 1 John 2:6: 6 Xeytov ev auiw peveiv / 'the one who says he abides 
in Him'. The infinitive expresses the content of what was said; in 
direct discourse it would be a statement, "I abide in Him." The 
following verbs are classified in this category: Xeyo) (42), liapxupeo) 
(4), dvaOeiiaii^to (3), anayyeXXa (3), dTtoKpivopai (3), (pdaKco (3), 
tnayye'kXoi (2), 6|^vi3(o (2), 6|iO>.oy8to in the sense 'to promise, to 
agree to' (2); and once each: podco, Suoxupi^o), sniSeiKvupi, epto, 
(pr\\ii, KaiaKpivto, 7tpoaiTido|aai, ar||iaiv(o, and ouviaxrmi. 

5. Verbs of Communication: Indirect Question. Acts 10:48 has 
an example of this classification: xoxe r|pcbxr|oav auxov ^Tri^eivai 
fmepaq xivdq / 'then they asked him to stay on for a few days'. The 

be two-fold: (a) mental activity and perception when it states the content or substance 
of the thought, and (b) indirect communication, whether as statement, question, or 

boyer: classification of infinitives 9 

direct quote would be a question, "Will you stay on . . .?" Verbs used 
with an infinitive in indirect discourse are ^pcoTdco (10), airea) (6), 
ei)XO|iai (6), Seo^iai (4), Trpoaeuxof^cii (3), Ttapaixeto (2); and once 
each: ^Treptotdco, ^niKa^eofiai, KaiaveiJO), and KaiaaEito. 

6. Verbs of Communication: Indirect Command or Entreaty. 
Luke 18:40 has the following example: 6 'IriooOq ^KeXeuaev auxov 
dxOfjvai Tipoc; aCiov / 'Jesus commanded that he be brought to Him'. 
The direct quotation would have been a command or exhortation, 
"bring him to Me." Several verbs fall in this category: Kapayye^iXa) 
(32), 7iapaKa>.£0L) (30), k8?ieu(d (26), elnov (11), Ypdcpco (7), Siaidaoco 
(7), tvxiWo^ax (4), eTtiidaao) (4), 5i5doKco (3), veuco (2), ou|a(3o\j>teu(jL) 
(2), idaoo) (2), i)7io5eiKvu|ii (2), UKOVoeto (2); and once each: d7tei)L8(o, 
Seikvu^i, 5ia|iapTupE0), ^vopKi^o), ^TiiKpivo), tuxoxiXkiS), £L)ayYEX,i^(jL), 
in the sense 'to proclaim that', Kr|pi3oaco, naiSEuco, TiapaivEo^ai, 
TipoaTdaaa), and ao|i(ppovi^(o. In one passage the governing verb is 
unexpressed; some form of SiSdaKco probably should be supplied 
(1 Tim4:3;cf. V 1). 

Object Infinitive with Other Verbs 

It may be surprising, but there are only two (or perhaps three) 
other instances where an infinitive stands as the true object of a verb. 
2 Cor 8:1 1 reads vuvi Se Kai to Tioifjaai tmxzkio^iz / 'but now finish 
doing it also'; the infinitive seems to be a true object rather than a 
complement to ettiteXeco. In Phil 4:10 (on fi5r| noie dv£0d>tETE to 
i)7iEp EnoO (ppovEiv / 'that now at last you have revived your concern 
for me'), cppovEiv seems to be functioning as a simple noun object. 
One other passage that perhaps belongs here is Rev 13:10: eI' tk; ev 
fiaxaipT) dTroKTavGfjvai, auTov ^v jiaxaipr) dTroKTavOfjvai / 'If anyone 
is to be killed with the sword, with the sword he will be killed'.'* The 
first dTroKTavOfjvai is clearly the predicate of a verb which needs to be 
supplied (perhaps "is destined" as the NASB supplies in the first half 
of the couplet, or perhaps simply the copula as the jV/Kdoes in both 
halves of the couplet; in the latter case the infinitive would not strictly 
be object, but rather a subjective complement). 

It might well be argued that some of the infinitives which I have 
classed as complementary might be considered simply as noun objects 
of the verb. In such cases I have tried to follow the lead of other 

'*The translation given in this instance is from the NIV which follows Codex A. 
NASB follows a different text and translates, "if anyone kills with the sword." The 
whole passage is greatly compressed and difficult to interpret. 


grammarians'^ who list the governing verb as one which elsewhere 
takes an infinitive to complete its meaning. 

Adverbial Infinitives 

In many instances the infinitive is used, in effect, as a subordinate 
adverbial clause which usually expresses time but may also express 
cause, purpose or result. 

Infinitive of Purpose or Result 

The most natural adverbial use of the infinitive, either articular 
or anarthrous, is to express the end or direction of an action, whether 
intentional (purpose) or consequential (result). Grammarians who 
have studied the historical development of the Greek language point 
out that the Greek infinitive originated as a verbal substantive with a 
fixed dative or locative case form.^° Thus, as Robertson says, "This 
notion of purpose is the direct meaning of the dative case which is 
retained. It is the usual meaning of the inf. in Homer, that of pur- 
pose"^' and "This dative inf. was probably a survival of the old and 
once common dative of purpose. "^^ In later Greek, especially in 
Hellenistic Greek, the infinitive in this and all other uses gave way 
increasingly to the iva-clause until it disappeared entirely in modern 
Greek where it is replaced with vd (i.e., i'va) + subjunctive. In the NT 
it is still very common as an expression of purpose, along with I'va. 

The relation between purpose and result is a close one and often 
difficult, sometimes impossible, to distinguish. Intended resuU is pur- 
pose; accomplished or realized purpose is result, and it is not clear in 
every instance which is in the mind of the author. ^^ For example, in 
Rev 5:5 eviKriaav 6 A-ewv . . . ctvoi^ai is an accomplished fact, but the 
speaker might be pointing to the reason for the action. Another factor 
contributing to this confusion between purpose and result in the NT 
may be the theological context which presents a sovereign God whose 
purposes always become results and results always arise out of his 

In this classification I label each example as either infinitive of 
purpose or of result where it seems reasonably clear to do so, and I 
put in another category those which might reasonably be either. 

"See particularly BDF, 201-5. 

^°For a discussion of the origin and development of the infinitive in the Greek 
language see Robertson, Grammar, 1051-56. 

"Ibid., 1087. 

"ibid., 1053. 

"For a rather thorough discussion of this problem see Robertson, Grammar, 

boyer: classification of infinitives 1 1 

/. Infinitive of Purpose. Two clear examples of infinitives of 
purpose are Matt 2:2: fiX,0on8v TrpooKuvfjaai auiw / 'we have come 
to worship Him' and Luke 15:15: e7r8|ivj/Ev auiov £i(; xoitc, dypouc; 
aCxoi) PooKEiv xoipou(; / 'he sent him into his fields to feed swine'. 
Verbs found with an infinitive of purpose are {a) 'to send': dtTtooTeX^ico 
(19), il^anocsxiX'kii) (2), TieiaTta) (4); {b) 'to give': 5i5(0(ii (17), Ttapa- 
515(JL)[ii (3); (c) 'to choose': tKktyo\ia\. (4), 7rpoxeiplCo|iai (3); {d) more 
than 40 others with three or less infinitives involved; and {e) a special 
category of intransitive verbs of motion: 'to go' or 'to come'; com- 
pounds of Paivco (13), 8pxo|iai and its compounds (79), Ttopeuofiai 
and its compounds (12), compounds of dyto (5); verbs meaning 'to be 
present, to have come', f^Kco (2), Trapayivoiiai (2), 7rdpEi|ii (1); and 
miscellaneous intransitive verbs of motion (19). 

2. Infinitives of Result. Sometimes a particle indicates that an 
infinitive is an infinitive of result. "Qaxe is a combination of the 
comparative particle cog 'as' with the enclitic t8 'and' (note the accent: 
not 0)0X8 as it would have to be if it were one word) and means 'and 
so' or 'so as'. The Blass-Debrunner grammar says, "The introductory 
particle for the infinitive of result is waxe as in classical."^'* 

There are 64 infinitives in the NT introduced by waxe or (bg. Of 
these, all but 8 are infinitives of result, the result being either an 
actual occurrence (51), a fictional occurrence as part of a parable (3) 
(Matt 13:32 twice, Mark 4:32), or the occurrence which could follow 
if some condition were met (Matt 24:24; 1 Cor 13:2). Of the remaining 
eight, five may perhaps be explained away. In Matt 15:33 the waxe 
may be understood as the co-ordinate of xoaoOxai: "so many loaves 
as it would take to actually feed so great a crowd." In Matt 10:1 (two 
occurrences), 27:1, and Acts 20:24 the results intended were actually 
realized later; this was known at the time when the record was written 
and may be reflected in the choice to use uaxe or (bg. But the three 
remaining passages are different. In Luke 9:52 there is some doubt 
whether the intended result was actually realized. If (bg 8xoi|xdaai 
auxcp means to prepare the people of Samaria to receive Christ, it was 
not realized, as the following verse shows. But probably these words 
should be understood to mean "to make arrangement for Him" 
{NASB)\ if so it is clearly actual result. In Luke 20:20 it is true that 
Jesus was actually delivered over to the rulers, but it did not come 
about by the tactics reported in this verse, that is, by listening to 
Jesus' teaching in order to trap him by his speech. Thus, the purpose 

^"BDF, 197. They go on to explain that there is uncertainty whether the simple &c, 
is used, just as there is about its use in customary Attic. In the UBS^ text cbq appears 
with the infinitive twice (Luke 9:52 and Acts 20:24), both with textual variants includ- 
ing mate and both with the meaning of intended result (i.e., purpose). 


in this context failed. There seems to be no doubt, however, that in 
Luke 4:29 &GTe is used with an infinitive to express an intended result 
which, obviously, was in no sense realized. Jesus was not thrown 
down from the hill, as is explicitly stated in the next verse. Apparently 
the confusion over purpose and result, between intended and actual 
result, must sometimes be recognized even when &OTe occurs. 

The other five infinitives identified in this study as infinitives of 
result do not use waxe or (bg. In Matt 21:32 belief, expressed by the 
infinitive TtiaxeCaai, was not the purpose for repentance but the result 
of it. So also in Rom 7:3 the wife's freedom from the law of her dead 
husband is not "in order that she may not be an adultress," but it 
results in her not being so. In Heb 11:8 Abraham obeyed "with the 
result that" he went out, not "in order to" go out. And in Rev 2:20 
(twice) it is preferable to understand the immorality and eating of 
idol-sacrifices as the result rather than the purpose of Jezebel's false 

3. Infinitives either Purpose or Result. The fact that the infini- 
tive may express either purpose or result requires the interpreter to 
make a subjective decision or admit uncertainty as to the precise 
significance of the infinitive. The preceding sections include those 
instances where this writer has made that decision. The present cate- 
gory includes 19 places^^ where there was uncertainty regarding classifi- 
cation. The reader is called upon to use his own judgment in these 

Perhaps this whole issue should prompt us to look again at our 
own language. Is it always possible to make distinctions between 
purpose and result in the English use of the infinitive? And, do we 
need to do so? 

Articular Infinitives with Prepositions 

Of all the many uses of the Greek infinitives, this one is the most 
foreign to English speakers. English uses infinitives in all the ways 
that Greek does as subjects of verbs, as objects (both complementary 
and in indirect discourse), as adverbs expressing purpose or result, 
and in apposition to nouns, adjectives, and pronouns. But there is 
nothing in English to prepare the beginning Greek student for the use 
of the infinitive when it stands as object of a preposition and func- 
tions as an adverbial clause. 

It is impossible to translate these constructions literally into 
any understandable English. They most naturally are translated by 

''Mark 7:4; Luke 1:25; 24:16, 45; Acts 7:19; 10:47; 15:10; 20:30; Rom 1:24,28; 11:8 
(twice), 10; 2 Cor 10:16 (twice); Gal 3:10; 1 Thess 3:3; Rev 16:9, 19. 

boyer: classification of infinitives 13 


Articular Infinitives with Prepositions 

Tense of 

















Purpose; "in order to" 






Temporal: "while, as, when" 







Causal: "because" 






Temporal: "after 






Purpose: "in order to" 






Temporal: "before" 





Substitution: "instead of" 





Causal: "because, for the sake of" 





Temporal: "until" 




Temporal: "before" 

Jtpiv fi 



Temporal: "before" 

converting them into subordinate clauses, choosing the conjunction 
according to the meaning of the preposition and changing the infini- 
tive into a finite verb. For example, Luke 1 1:27 (^v tco A-eyeiv auiov 
TaOxa) may be translated "while he was saying these things." A literal 
translation would be, "in the him to say these things," and, less literal, 
"in the process of his saying these things." Table 1 sets forth the basic 
information regarding these constructions. 

Only those prepositions listed in Table 1 are used in this con- 
struction. There are two examples which conform completely to this 
pattern but which clearly do not belong to this category: 2 Cor 8:1 1; 
8K ToC e^Eiv / 'by your ability' (NASB), and Heb 2:15: 5ia navxoc, 
ToO ^fjv / 'through [their] whole life' or 'all their lives' (NASB). These 
will be considered later under the category Infinitives as Simple 

A characteristic of this construction is the use of the article with 
the infinitive; the only exception is with Tipiv. Robertson explains, 
"The use of npiv with the inf. was common in Homer before the 
article was used with the inf. The usage became fixed and the article 
never intervened. "^^ He points out that the case used with npiv is 
Ablative (Genitive). 

The tense of the infinitive signifies, of course, not time, but aspect. 
The present is used for a durative aspect and the aorist for simple 
occurrence or indefinite. This produces a subtle distinction especially 
in the case of ^v tw with the infinitive. When the present is used the 

^^Robertson, Grammar, 1075. 


sense is durative; it is continuing action going on at the same time as 
the main clause. When the tense is aorist it is simple occurrence, 
simultaneous but not emphasizing the continuing action. Usually 
NASB translates ev tw with the aorist infinitive by "when" (9 of the 
12 times it occurs). They use "while" or "as" 31 times and "when" 
only 7 times with the present infinitive. 

Six of the prepositions used with infinitives are temporal in sig- 
nificance and express time relative to the main sentence as either 
antecedent (Tipo, npiv, npiv fi, etog), contemporary (^v), or subsequent 
(^eTa). Two express purpose or end (eii;, npoz,); two express cause 
(5id, ev8Kev); and one, substitution (dvii). The meanings given in 
Table 1 are the more common ones, but they are not exhaustive. 
With ^v the sense is sometimes instrumental (Acts 3:26, Heb 8:13). 
The eiq to + infinitive construction seems sometimes to be the same 
as the simple infinitive of purpose or result; in two instances it seems 
exactly equivalent to the simple epexegetical infinitive of an adjective 
(Jas 1:19, twice). 

Causal Infinitive 

The one passage which alone shows the infinitive without a pre- 
position functioning in the adverbial sense of cause is 2 Cor 2:13: tw 
\iy\ Eupeiv \iz Tiiov / 'because I did not find Titus'. The case of the 
infinitive is instrumental-dative (with xw), which is appropriate to the 
causal sense. The construction is structurally parallel to the purpose 
and result categories already discussed. 

Absolute Infinitives 

The Infinitive Absolute 

The classical infinitive absolute is described by Goodwin in his 
grammar of classical Greek: "The infinitive may stand absolutely in 
parenthetic phrases, generally with cog or oaov. . . . The most com- 
mon of these expressions is (bg Inoc, eiTieiv or (ac, eiTieiv to put it in a 
word or if one may say so, used to soften a statement."^' This con- 
struction occurs only once in the NT and is in fact the very example 
Goodwin quoted — Heb 7:9: Kai (be; enoc, einelv / 'and, so to speak'. 

The Imperatival Infinitive 

In grammatical terminology absolute is often used to refer to some- 
thing which appears alone, without object or grammatical connection. 

^'W. W. Goodwin, Greek Grammar, revised by C. B. Gulick (Boston: Ginn and 
Co., 1930) 323. 

boyer: classification of infinitives 15 

Robertson uses the term to describe an infinitive construction other 
than the infinitive absolute already described (he deals with the 
category under a different heading). He applies this term to those 
instances where an infinitive seems to stand as the main verb of a 
sentence in a context of imperatival sentences, functioning as if it 
were an imperative. The infinitive is absolute in the sense that there is 
no "main verb on which it depends." It is true that in classical Greek 
there was such an imperatival infinitive. Goodwin describes it, "The 
infinitive with a subject nominative is sometimes used like the second 
person of the imperative" (emphasis added). He says of a similar 
construction (infinitive with a subject accusative): 

This construction has been explained by supplying a verb like 56(; or 
SoTE grant ... or yevoixo may it be. . . . In laws, treaties, and procla- 
mations, the infinitive often depends on 85o^8 or SeSoktoi be it enacted, 
or KEKE^Euoxai // is commanded; which may be expressed in a previous 
sentence or understood.'^* 

A few infinitives in the NT have been accounted for as impera- 
tival, and in order to present as complete a picture as possible I have 
identified eleven examples. ^^ However, it should be noted that there is 
no instance in the NT of a subject in the nominative case as required 
in the classical pattern. Also, as Goodwin pointed out, even the 
classical construction could be explained by supplying a governing 
verb expressed or understood in the context. Blass says, "a governing 
verb (of 'saying', xpx], 5ei) can readily be supplied everywhere in the 
New Testament passages (which was not the case with the old impera- 
tival inf.)"^*' He would limit the NT examples to Rom 12:14 and Phil 
3:16. It is my judgment that all these so-called imperatival infinitives 
should be considered elliptical and assigned to the complementary or 
indirect discourse categories already presented.^' 

Limiting Infinitives 

An infinitive often is used with nouns, adjectives, and pronouns 
to limit, describe, or explain them by adding some qualifying or 
restrictive factor. An example is found in Rev 5:9, 12: "A^iog el 
XaPeiv TO PiP?iiov Kai dvoi^ai tag cippaylbac, auioO, . . . "A^iog . . . 

''Ibid., p. 324. 

"Acts 15:23; 23:26; Rom 12:15 (twice); Eph 4:23 (twice); 4:24; Phil 3:16; 2 Thess 
3: 14; Tit 2:9; Jas 1:1. 

'°BDF, 196. 

^'Compare a similar problem and solution of the so-called imperatival participle 
discussed in my previous article, "The Classification of Participles: A Statistical Study," 
cry 5 (1984) 163-79. 




Comparison of Words Which Govern or Are Limited by Infinitives 




Periphrastic Verb Phrases 







exeiv dvdyKTiv 









dpxfiv 'ka.^zlv 





eGevia PouXr|V 





5^ov ioxiv 















tvtbpav 7ioioOvTe(; 









SvToXfiv exeiv 





e^ouoiav exeiv or 5i5ovai, 
E^ov feoxiv, e^ov [eaxiv] 









^TtiTtoOiav exeiv 





fetoificoq e'xeiv, ^v £Toi|i(p exeiv 





















Ttappriaiav exeiv 






Ttpejiov ^OTiv 









a7iou5fiv Tioiou^ievoi; 







xpeiav exeiv 





}iapeiv TTjv 5i3va|iiv Kai . . . k.tA. / '(the Lamb) is worthy to take the 
book and to open its seals . . . worthy to receive power, etc.' The 
infinitives explain in what respect worthiness is ascribed. Some 
grammarians use the term 'epexegetic' for this usage. 

The nouns or adjectives used in this construction are very com- 
monly those which are in the semantic range of verbs which cus- 
tomarily take the complementary infinitive (those which denote ability, 
fitness, readiness, need, desire, etc.). Table 2 gives a comparative 
listing of words which govern or are Umited by infinitives. 

Infinitives Limiting Nouns 

The largest category of these limiting infinitives occurs with 
nouns (88 instances). An example is found in 1 Cor 9:4: |ifi ouk 

boyer: classification of infinitives 17 

exo|i8v ^^ouaiav (payeiv Kai Tieiv / 'Do we not have a right to eat 
and drink?' The noun ^^ouaiav is explained by referring it to eating 
and drinking. Nouns limited thus by infinitives express either (1) 
'power, ability, authority' (^^ouoia [25], Suva^ig [1]); (2) 'desire' 
(0eX,r||ia [1], ^TrinoGia [1], npoGujiia [1]); (3) 'need, obligation' (xpeia 
[9], dvdYKTi [5], 6(peiXeT:r[c, [2]); (4) 'time' (Kaip6(; [6], f^epa [3], dSpa 
[1], euKaipia [1], xpovoc, [1]); and (5) a miscellaneous list of 31 others. 
The infinitive has the genitive article 14 times, the accusative once; 
the article is absent 73 times. 

Infinitives Limiting Adjectives 

The infinitive limits an adjective 43 times. An example is in 
2 Tim 2:2: oiTive(; iKavoi eaoviai Kai txepovc, 5i5d£,ai / 'who will be 
able to teach others also'. Applying the classifications used before for 
nouns, these adjectives express (1) 'power, ability, authority' (5uvaT6(; 
[8], iKavo^ [6], apKETOc; [1]); (2) 'desire' (eToi^oi; and kToi[L(£)<; [8], 
7ip60u|iov [1]); (3) 'need, obligation' (dvayKaiov [1]); (4) 'time' (PpaSuc; 
[2], o^uc; [1], TttxiJc; [1]); (5) miscellaneous (dSiKog [1], 5ua8p|ar|veuTO(; 
[1], e>.8u98poc; [1]); and a new category, (6) 'fitness' (al^ioc, [11]). Two 
of the infinitives have the genitive article, two the accusative, and 39 
are anarthrous. 

Infinitives Limiting Pronouns 

The limiting or describing function of the infinitive is seen when 
it stands in apposition to a pronoun. Jas 1:27 has two examples of 
this: Gpr|OKeia KaGapd . . . auiri eoiiv, ^7iioK87iT8o0ai . . . xripeiv / 
'This is . . . pure religion, to visit, . . . and to keep'. The pronoun 
explained by this construction is usually the demonstrative omoc, (15 
times). ^^ The interrogative tic, is predicate after an infinitive subject 
eight times, although six of the examples are found in one statement 
reported in three parallel passages. ^^ Twice an infinitive stands in 
apposition to the relative pronoun oc; or, perhaps more precisely, to 
the understood antecedent of the relative. The two passages are Acts 
3:18: 6 5e Geoc; a 7rpoKaTr|yYei>.8v . . . 7iaG8iv tov Xpioiov autoij / 
'the things which God announced beforehand, . . . that His Christ 
should suffer' (in a more direct sentence the infinitive would be the 
object in direct discourse) and Titus 2:2: 2i) 58 ?id?i8i d 7tpe7r8i ifi 
uyiaivouari 5i5aaKa>.ia. npeo^mac, vr|(pa>iioug 8{vai, K.T.?t. / 'Speak 

"Acts 15:29; 26:16; Rom 1:12; 14:13; 1 Cor 7:37; 2 Cor 2:1; 7:1 1; 1 Thess 4:3, 4, 6 
(twice); Heb 9:8; Jas 1:27 (twice); 1 Pet 2:15. 

"Matt 9:5 (twice); Mark 2:9 (twice); Luke 5:23 (twice). The other two are Mark 
9:10 and 1 Cor 5:12. 


the things which are fitting for sound doctrine, older men are to be 
temperate, etc' (the infinitive clause expresses that which is npenEV, in 
more direct structure this could be stated, "it is fitting to be temper- 
ate, etc."). 

Other Appositional Infinitives 

A few other infinitives have been classified as appositional. In 
Acts 24:15, dvaaxaaiv [leXXeiv eaeaGai stands in apposition to tXm?>a: 
'hope . . . that there is going to be a resurrection'. In 1 Cor 7:25 &)C, 
. . . niGxoc, eivai / 'as . . . one who is trustworthy' stands in apposition 
to the subject of the main verb 5{5co|ii, as d)(; would indicate. In Rev 
2:14 the two infinitives (payeiv . . . Kai nopveOoai are in apposition 
with OKdv5a>.ov, explaining its constituent parts. Rev 12:7 is a diffi- 
cult sentence, but the infinitive is most easily explained as being in 
apposition to noXe^ioc,: "there was war in heaven, Michael . . . waging 
war with. ..." 

The Infinitive as a Simple Noun 

In two passages an articular infinitive stands as the object of a 
preposition in a structure exactly like those already described (articu- 
lar infinitives with a preposition), but in neither case can these be 
considered such. Rather, the infinitive seems to be functioning as a 
simple noun. In 2 Cor 8:11 (8K toO exeiv), the preposition is one 
which is not used elsewhere in that construction. 'Ek toO exeiv states 
the source from which the completion of the act should come, 'by 
your ability' (NASB), 'according to your means' (NIV), or 'out of that 
which you have' (KJV — probably clearest; certainly the most Hteral). 
In Heb 2:15 (5id navxoq toC C^v), the situation is similar. While 5id 
is used in the adverbial construction in the sense of 'because' (with 
an accusative), it never is so used in the sense of 'through' (with 
a genitive). In this passage another factor needs to be considered. 
This infinitive ^fjv is the only one in the entire NT which has an 
adjectival modifier, TiavTO^. There is evidence that this particular 
infinitive became in actual use a virtual noun (Uke ^cor|) to the extent 
that in Ignatius frequently it was modified by an adjective and even a 


The quotation marks in this heading indicate that the term 
"subject" is being used in a way which needs an explanation. It is 

"a. Butttnan, A Grammar of the New Testament Greek (Andover: Warren F. 
Draper, 1891)262. 

boyer: classification of infinitives 19 

customary for elementary grammars to say that the subject of an 
infinitive is in the accusative case. This gross oversimplification of 
the matter may be a helpful, generalized first step for beginners, but 
it soon demands qualification and even correction. One of the major 
goals for this study has been a clarification of this rather confusing 

A thorough discussion of the question may be found in Robert- 
son. ""^ He insists that "the inf. is not finite, and, like the participle, has 
no subject. "^^ With regard to the so-called accusative subject, he 
considers "the true nature of the ace. with the inf. as being merely 
that of general reference. "^^ To the present writer this seems to be 
technically correct. The infinitive is a verbal noun, a noun expressing 
the abstract notion of the verb, a name given to the action or condi- 
tion expressed by the verb. As such it does not need to identify a doer 
of the action or a possessor of the condition; if it is desired to indicate 
such, it appears as a limiting adjunct rather than a subject. The 
accusative of general reference, if used, limits the abstract notion to 
its particular application. 

But this is not the whole picture. In most occurrences the infini- 
tive is referred by the context to a particular doer or possessor of that 
abstract verbal notion, and most frequently it is not accusative. In 
almost one-half of the NT infinitives (48.8%), it is referred to the 
subject of the governing verb which is in the nominative case. The 
noun to which an infinitive refers is accusative in 33.1% of the cases, 
dative in 8.9%, genitive in 3.0%, and vocative in 0.2% of the cases. In 
2.5% of the cases, the doer is not explicitly mentioned in the sentence 
and cannot be identified by case. Those which are truly general or 
abstract account for 3.6%. 

Furthermore, a distinction needs to be made between the "gram- 
matical subject" and the "logical subject" of the infinitive, that is, the 
doer or possessor of the verbal idea expressed by an infinitive. Tech- 
nically, with Robertson, there is no "grammatical subject." Those 
who speak of the accusative as subject probably have in mind that 
most commonly, if an explicit "subject" is stated within the infinitive 
clause, it is accusative. 

In translating infinitives it is common to convert them into 
clauses; in many instances they cannot be translated into English in 
any other way. That necessitates changing the infinitive into a finite 
verb and giving a subject to that verb. In the remainder of this discus- 
sion I will be using the term "subject" in the sense of the logical 

'Robertson, Grammar, 1082-85. 
'Ibid., 1082. 
'Ibid., 1083. 


subject, the doer of the action or the possessor of the condition 
expressed by the infinitive. How this subject relates to the rest of the 
sentence is the basis of the analysis given here. 

Same as Subject of the Governing Verb 

This is the situation with more than half of the infinitives in the 
NT. It is most frequently in the nominative case (1115 times), whether 
expressed as a noun, pronoun, other substantive, or simply by the 
personal ending of the verb. However, if the governing verb is a 
participle (which like the infinitive is not finite and has no grammatical 
subject), the grammatical case of the doer of the action of the parti- 
ciple is determined by the word with which the participle agrees and 
therefore may be any case. An example of a genitive is in Luke 21:28: 
dp^ofievcov 5e toCtcov yiveo9ai / 'when these things begin to come to 
pass'. The subject of yiveoGai is the same as that of its governing verb 
dpxon8vo)v; the subject of dpxojievcov is the substantive it modifies, 
toi3t(ov, which is genitive because it is in a genitive absolute construc- 
tion (this is the situation in 23 examples). The participle may be 
genitive as object of a preposition (7 times), as a possessive genitive 
(5), or as the genitive object of dKouo) (1). Another passage involving 
two infinitives is elliptical so that it is difficult to account for the 
genitive case.^^ There are 13 instances of the participle being dative 
because it is an indirect object (7), a predicate dative of possession (in 
doxologies) (4), an object of a verb taking the dative (1), or a dative 
of reference (1). For example, 1 Pet 4:5 has oi d7to5(baouoiv Xoyov 
T(p tToi[i(i>c, 8XOVTI Kpivai / 'they shall give account to Him who is 
ready to judge'. The subject of Kpivai is the same as its governing 
verb exovii which is in the dative as indirect object of d7ro5(baouaiv. 
There are 40 infinitives whose subject is accusative, the same as its 
governing verb (17 are participles and 23 are other infinitives). 

Same as Direct Object of Main Verb 

A large number (79) of infinitives have as their subjects an accusa- 
tive direct object of the main verb. An example is found in Matt 
28:20: SiSdaKovxeg amoiic, xripeiv Trdvia ooa / 'teaching them to 
observe all that'. Autou(; may be considered to be the direct object of 
SiSdaKovieg, "teaching them" (cf. Matt 5:2), or as the subject of the 
verbal idea in tripeiv, "teaching that they should keep. ..." It is not 
always easy to decide which is intended, but it probably is of little 
significance either way. In two other instances, where the finite verb 
takes a genitive object, the subject of the infinitive is genitive. 

'^1 Tim .4:3 (twice). 

boyer: classification of infinitives 21 

Same as Indirect Object of Main Verb 

More frequent (171 times) is a similar co-functioning of a noun 
as a dative of indirect object or dative of reference and as the subject 
of an infinitive. For example. Matt 3:7 reads, xi(; i)7re6£i^ev i)|iiv 
(puyeiv and xf\c, |ie?iX,oOor|(; 6pyf]c, / 'who warned you to flee from the 
wrath to come?' The dative pronoun i)|iiv functions in the main clause 
as indirect object of the verb. It is also subject, the doer of the action, 
of the infinitive (puyeiv. ^^ 

There are many indicators, however, which warn against putting 
the dative on a par with the accusative as subject of the infinitive. 
First, there are many places where this co-functioning dative occurs 
where other elements of the infinitive clause show that the writer 
thinks of the subject as accusative. For example, in Matt 18:8 is 
found, Ktt^ov aoi eaiiv eioeXQelv eic, xr\v ^wfiv ki)?l>i6v f] x^^ov, f\ 
5uo XEipa'^ T] 6uo n6?>ac, exovta / 'it is better for you (dative) to enter 
life crippled or lame (accusative), than having (ace.) two hands'. While 
aoi is properly dative in the main clause, in the infinitive clause 
adjectives and participles referring to the same person are accusative, 
as if to agree with ae. Apparently there was an underlying sense that 
called for the accusative, but the abbreviated actual statement per- 
mitted the co-functioning. Note that the same structure is used again 
in V 9, and cf. the parallel passages, Mark 9:43, 45, 47 where ae is 
used in place of aoi. The difference, if any, seems to be between "it is 
good for you to . . ." and "it is good that you should. ..." This co- 
functioning dative with participial modifiers in the accusative is found 
also in Luke 5:7, Acts 20:35, and Acts 25:27. Mark 6:39 has Kai 
eTieia^ev auToig dvaK?iivai navxac, j 'And he commanded them 
all to recline'. The indirect object auxoig is immediately adjacent 
to the accusative subject 7rdvTa(; ('them [dative] all [accusative]'); 
Acts 17:30 is similar. In 1 Tim 6:18 the predicate complement of 
the infinitive is accusative even though the subject referred to is 
present in a co-functioning dative. Gal 2:6 (cf. v 9) is similar, except 
that a co-functioning genitive is used. 

Second, this co-functioning is not limited to the dative. It has 
already been seen with the accusative direct object. It occurs also with 
the genitive.'*" Even the nominative could be labelled as co-functioning, 

"This construction has been studied by E. J. Lovelady, "Infinitive Clause Syntax 
in the Gospels" (Th.M. thesis, Grace Theological Seminary, 1976) 134-40. One quota- 
tion will express the thrust of his conclusion: "The dative word or construction in 
question is serving en portmanteau, for it co-functions, for practical purposes, both on 
the main finite clause level, and on the more restricted infinitive clause level" (p. 137). 

""E.g., Acts 19:16. The subject of the infinitive is expressed in the main clause as 
genitive object of a preposition (Kat' auTcov). 


for half of all infinitives show the subject of the main verb co- 
functioning as the subject of the infinitive. Here also there are indica- 
tions that an understood subject accusative is in the background. 
Usually (34 times) when the infinitive is a predicative verb followed 
by a subjective complement, that complement is put in the nominative 
case if the subject, as subject of the governing verb, is nominative. 
But there are two instances where the accusative is used."" When the 
nominative subject is explicitly repeated as reflexive object of the 
governing verb (Heb 5:5) it is put in the accusative case. 

Third, occasionally when the subject of the infinitive is the same 
as some other part of the sentence it is repeated explicitly as an 
accusative adjunct of the infinitive. An example of this is found in 
2 Cor 2:13: oijk eo^riKa aveaiv tw nveunaxi |iou xw |ifi eupeiv jie 
TiTOV / 'I still had no peace of mind, because I did not find my 
brother Titus there' (NIV). The subject of both the main verb and the 
infinitive is Paul, nominative as subject of eoxrjKa, but repeated as an 
accusative jie in the infinitive clause. 

Fourth, even where the subject is abstract or general (see below) 
and is not mentioned anywhere in the text, it may be modified by a 
participle in the accusative case."*^ 

Same as Some Other Part of the Sentence 

A few times (21) the subject of the infinitive is referred to in 
other parts of the sentence. There are four instances where those 
addressed directly in the vocative case are the doers of the action of 
the infinitive. Once a nominative substantival participle and once a 
substantive clause introduced by on and functioning as subject of the 
sentence (hence, the clause is nominative) are subject of the infinitive. 
The subject of the infinitive is genitive 30 times (genitive of possession 
[23 times], genitive object of a preposition [6 times], and a partitive 
genitive [1 time]). In 20 instances it is expressed by a word in a dative 
relation to the sentence, (predicate dative of possession [9 times], 
dative of reference [9 times], dative of advantage [1 time], and dative 
object of a preposition [1 time]). There are five examples where the 
subject is accusative as the object of a preposition. 

Subject Explicitly Expressed in the Infinitive Clause 

A very large number (608) of infinitives have their subject ex- 
plicitly stated within the infinitive clause, either as a noun (228 times) 

Luke 1 1:8, Acts 18:3. Both are articular infinitives after a preposition. 
""^E.g., 1 Pet 2:15. The subject is general— it is true of anyone. But it is modified 
in the infinitive clause by an accusative adverbial participle dyaGoTioioOvTei;. 

boyer: classification of infinitives 23 

or pronoun (380 times) or some other substantival expression (7 times). 
The case is always accusative/^ Apparently this is the basis for the 
prevalent notion that the infinitive takes an accusative subject. It 
seems to be true when the subject is specifically included as part of 
the infinitive clause. 

Subject Unexpressed; to be Supplied from Context 

In 58 instances there is no mention anywhere in the sentence of 
the doer of the action of the infinitive, but from the general context 
this subject can be understood. Since it is not part of the sentence its 
case is undetermined. 

Subject is Abstract, General or Indefinite 

In 82 instances the subject of the infinitive is best considered to 
be abstract, general, or indefinite. It applies to any or all; there is no 
specific doer or possessor involved. Matt 9:5 offers an example: ti 
ydp eoxiv euKOTrwiepov, eineiv . . . f\ sineiv / 'For which is easier, 
to say ... or to say'. The one doing the saying is not in mind, 
it is true whoever says it. Matt 12:12 reads, e^eaiiv toic; od(3Paaiv 
KaX(bc, TToieiv / 'it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath'. Compare 
also Mark 12:33, Jas 1:27. 

Indeed, Robertson insists (as has already been pointed out) that 
this is true of all infinitives by their nature as abstract nouns and this 
abstract quality is referenced to particular cases by the accusative of 
general reference. But this seems to ignore the majority of instances 
where a particular "subject" is present to the minds of the readers in 
other parts of the sentence. It is not true that all infinitives which do 
not have an accusative of reference are to be considered abstract and 


The following statements will summarize the conclusions of this 
study regarding the subject of the infinitive. Most frequently the sub- 
ject is the same as that of the governing verb; hence, in the nominative 
case except when the governing verb is a participle — then it may be in 
any case. Very often the subject of the infinitive co-functions in a 
grammatical relation to some other part of the sentence, such as 
direct or indirect object, object of preposition, a substantive participle 

"'Clyde W. Votaw ("The Use of the Infinitive in BibHcal Greek" [Ph.D. disserta- 
tion, University of Chicago, 1896] 58) states, "When the subject of the infinitive is 
expressed it is always in the accusative case." 



Cases Used as "Subject" of Infinitives 











Subject Same as Governing 






Same as Direct Object 
Same as Indirect Object 
Same as Some Other Part 
of Sentence 









Explicit in Infinitive Clause 



Not Expressed 










204 756 4 
8.9% 33.0% 0.2% 


or adjective, a possessive construction, etc. This co-functioning results 
in the subject being in any of the cases. When the subject is expressly 
stated as an adjunct of the infinitive it is always in the accusative case. 
The accusative also must be understood to be present to the mind 
even when the subject co-functions with some other non-accusative 
element of the sentence. These conclusions are summarized statisti- 
cally in Table 3. 


In the NT the infinitive is anarthrous 1977 times (86.3%). The 
article appears with it 314 times (13.7%). The reasons for this and the 
significance of it have been the subject of discussion among gram- 
marians (with most of the discussion long in theory and short in 
substance). This presentation will attempt to summarize the situation 
in three negative observations and a positive but general suggestion. 

Not for Case Identification 

The use of the article does not seem to be for the purpose of 
identifying the case of the non-declinable abstract infinitive, although 
it does that incidentally at least part of the time. In the vast majority 
of instances there is no article, and no reason is apparent why these 
are not just as much in need of case identification as those where 
it is present. Even when the article is present it does not distinguish 
between the nominative and accusative (to serves for both). But this 
is particularly demonstrated by the genitive article (xoO) with the 

boyer: classification of infinitives 25 

infinitive, which is used for every case function; with subject infini- 
tives which are nominative, with purpose infinitives which are closest 
to the original dative-instrumental case, and with the accusative infini- 
tive as object of verbs, as well as with some which stand in a properly 
genitive relationship. J. H. Moulton speaks of the toO as ". . . retain- 
ing its genitive force almost as little as the genitive absolute."'*'* 

Not for Function Indicators 

The case of the article does not seem to be related to the classi- 
fication of infinitive functions."*^ Every classification except one shows 
both articular and anarthrous constructions. The one exception, the 
adverbial use of the infinitive with prepositions, does seem to be 
characterized by demanding the article, although even one of these is 
anarthrous.''^ The article does identify which meaning of the preposi- 
tion is intended when the preposition can use more than one case. 
For example, 5ia to indicates that 5id means 'on account of rather 
than 'through'. But apparently this is not the reason for its use, since 
it is used even where the preposition has only one case. 

Not for Case Relationships 

We have already seen that the genitive article is used with some 
subject infinitives. Object infinitives have an article only 27 times; 1 1 
are accusative as would be expected, but 16 are genitive, not one of 
which goes with a verb which normally takes the genitive."^ With 
purpose and result infinitives 41 genitive and one accusative articles 
are found; none of them use the dative which might be expected. 
Even with the limiting or epexegetic infinitive the article does not 
indicate the case relation which exists between the noun or adjective 
and the infinitive construed with it. The vast majority are anarthrous, 
and when the article is used it is usually the ambiguous loO. The same 

"James Hope Moulton, A Grammar of New Testament Greek, vol. I, Prole- 
gomena (Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, 1908) 216. 

"'a. T. Robertson {Grammar, 1063) says, "The articular inf. has all the main uses 
of the anarthrous inf." 

"Vpiv is not strictly a preposition; it is a temporal adverb which takes the infini- 
tive in this construction. It is used only twice elsewhere in the NT with finite verbs 
when the sentence is negative. This does not, however, explain the absence of the 
article; cf. ecoq, which also is a temporal adverb, and uses the article with the infinitive 
in this construction. See above and n. 26. 

""in Rom 15:22 ^ykotttc) / 'to hinder from' is followed by the genitive infinitive, 
which seems a natural case for this meaning although there are no other examples of its 
use with this verb. In 2 Cor 1:8 a genitive infinitive follows the verb t^anopea) as it 
does elsewhere, although not in the NT. 


adjective may be followed by toO (Luke 24:25: Ppa58i(; . . . toC 
Ttiaxeueiv) and to (Jas 1:19: ppaSix; ei(; to >ta?ifiaai). The noun 
e^ouoia is explained by an infinitive 25 times; only once does the 
infinitive have the article toC, but there is no clear difference in sense. 
Nouns expressing time have the epexegetic infinitive 12 times, five 
with ToO and seven anarthrous, apparently with no discernible case 

Perhaps the Same as with Nouns 

The significance of the article with infinitives, if there is any, 
apparently must be sought in other directions. Robertson says that 
"The article has just the effect that the Greek Article has with any 
abstract substantive, that of distinction and contrast."''^ He explains 
varied uses of xoO as stylistic, "It is only in Luke (Gospels 24, Acts 24) 
and Paul (13) that toO with the inf. (without preposition) is common. 
They have five-sixths of the examples and Luke himself has two-thirds 
of the total in the New Testament."''^ Blass-Debrunner saysi "The 
article with the infinitive, strictly speaking, has the same (anaphoric) 
significance as it has with nouns. ... In general the anaphoric signifi- 
cance of the article, i.e., its reference to something previously men- 
tioned or otherwise well known, is more or less evident. "^° Such 
statements are general enough to sound impressive but vague enough 
to provide little help in particular instances. For practical purposes 
the situation may be summarized in a couple suggestions. In the vast 
majority of cases no question need be asked; the 86% of the anar- 
throus infinitives clearly are the normal situation. The 14% with the 
article seem to be very like those without; perhaps it is worthwhile 
exploring a general indication of contrast or specific references. But 
perhaps, as Robertson comments, it is a matter of style or personal 
whim. Or, may 1 suggest, it may be simply a grammatical idiom — 
almost half of the infinitives with the article belong to a grammatical 
construction (object of a preposition) which apparently required it. 
The use of the article with infinitives is summarized in Table 4. 


This article may fittingly close with a suggestion for another very 
interesting and it is believed very instructive field of study related to 
the NT usage of the infinitive — a statistical study of word order pat- 
terns. Someone familiar with the techniques of tagmemic grammar 

Robertson, Grammar, 1065. 
'Ibid., 1067. 
'BDF, 205. 

boyer: classification of infinitives 



Use of Article with Infinitives 







I. Subject Infinitives 

Impersonal Verbs 




Predicative Verbs 






Other Verbs 



Passive Verbs 




2. Object Infinitives 






Indirect Discourse 









3. Adverbial Infinitives 

Purpose or Result 





With Prepositions 









4. Absolute Infinitives 

Infinitive Absolute 



Imperatival (?) 



5. Limiting Infinitives 

With Nouns 





With Adjectives 




With Pronouns 









6. Simple Nouns 










could explore the whole problem of word order within the infinitive 
clause — of such elements as subject, object, predicate complement, 
adverbial modifiers, and other adjuncts along with the infinitive itself, 
and of the whole infinitive clause within the sentence framework. 
Perhaps insights of exegetical significance may be discovered; certainly 
more confidence regarding the language patterns of NT Greek would 
be the product. An important beginning in this direction has already 
been made by Dr. Lovelady, "Infinitive Clause Syntax in the Gospels" 
(Th.M. thesis, Grace Theological Seminary, 1976). It needs to be 
completed with the assistance now available from the computer. 

The use of a i'va-clause as a substitute for the infinitive will be 
dealt with in this writer's next proposed article: "A Statistical Study 
of the Subjunctive." 

Grace JheologicalJournal 6.\ (1985) 29-48 


Richard D. Patterson 

A balanced use of grammar, literary analysis, history, and theol- 
ogy used to analyze Psalm 45 reveals that the psalm is a Liebeslied. 
The psalm is found to be one of the Royal Psalms, although the 
precise Sitz im Leben cannot be determined. The structure of the 
psalm follows an Ab I B pattern, the first part speaking of the King 
and the second part of the Queen. While the psalm has reference to 
any king in the Davidic line, its full application is found in Christ and 
his bride, the Church. 


PSALM 45 is a unique psalm. The ancient heading attached to the 
psalm informs the reader that it is a T\'W yv), "a song of (tender) 
love," or perhaps, as Delitzsch insists, "a song of holy love."' One 
might think that such a psalm would be easy to understand. However, 
perhaps due to the intimacy of the subject matter, both the historical 
setting and, at several points, the understanding of the text itself have 
puzzled scholars of all ages. As Craigie laments, "Both the analysis of 
the Psalm and its translation ... are subject to some uncertainty."^ 

Methodologically, this study follows what might be termed con- 
textual exegesis — a procedure that makes full and balanced use of 
grammar, literary analysis, history, and theology. This multiplex 
approach is directed not only to the proper understanding of the 
canonical context, but also to a valid application to the contemporary 
context of the modern reader or hearer. An arduous, yet not unpleasant 
task, the method has much in common with what Walter Kaiser, Jr. 

'Franz Delitzsch, Biblical Commentary on the Psalms (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 
1955) 2:77-78. 

^P. C. Craigie, Psalms 1-50 (Word Biblical Commentary; Waco: Word, 1983) 337. 


calls "syntactical-theological exegesis,"^ or with what E. Smick, fol- 
lowing Oehler, terms "the historico-genetic method of Old Testament 
theology."" In a similar vein, see the work of D. Stuart.^ 


Literary Style 

Psalm 45 is rich in literary features. Expositors generally concede 
that this ancient Liebeslied or love poem is a wedding song. Unlike 
the typical classical epithalmium, however, no ante-chamber chorus is 
utilized here, its place being assumed by the lyricist himself. In addi- 
tion, if certain elements of the translation suggested below are correct, 
part of the psalm may be viewed as a sort of literary blazon, praising 
the weaponry wherewith the king is attired almost as if it were a coat 
of arms. 

Above all, of course, the psalm is a lyric poem. As such, it bears 
marks typical of such pieces, such as (1) a desire to reach an audience 
(vv 2-5, 11-14), (2) a wilhngness to be overheard (vv 6-7), and (3) a 
basic commonness or simplicity of construction.^ The latter point 
seems to be at odds with the previous observation that parts of the 
texts are difficult to interpret. However, it is no doubt only the 
modern reader who has difficulties, not the original hearers. In any 
case, the difficulties are confined to just a few lines. 

Overall, the psalm exhibits the normal elements of Hebrew poetic 
expression. Thus, it contains the usual features of stock pairs (e.g., 
"|3TX ''Um . . . "'1??3U? / 'listen and incline your ear', v 1 1 [cf. the frequent 
negative use of this pair in Jeremiah]; and VjT nnoiT / 'joy and glad- 
ness', V 16),^ familiar themes (e.g., truth and justice, v5 [cf. Pss 
10:14-18; 82:3-4; 146:9]; righteousness and the king[dom], v7 [cf. 
2 Sam 23:3-5; Pss 72; 85:11-14]; and righteousness versus iniquity, 
V 8 [cf. Ps 7:7-1 1; Gen 18:25; Prov 12:26, 28]), and well-known motifs 
such as the king as defender of the poor (v 5; cf. Pss 10:14-18; 82:3-4; 
146:8),* the right hand as the emphatic designation of honor, vigor. 

Walter Kaiser, Jr., Toward an Exegetical Theology (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1981) 

"E. Smick, "Old Testament Theology: The Historico-Genetic Method," JETS 26 
(1983) 145-55. 

'D. Stuart, Old Testament £x^gem (Philadelphia: Westminster, 1980.) 

'See the full discussion of C. M. Ing, "Lyric," Cassell's Encyclopaedia of Litera- 
ture, ed. S. H. Steinberg (London: Cassell, 1953) 1:354-60. The versification for the 
Psalms in this article follows that of the Hebrew Bible. 

'See M. Dahood, "Ugaritic-Hebrew Parallel Pairs," RSP, I, 354. 

*See further R. Patterson, "The Widow, The Orphan and The Poor in the Old 
Testament and the Extra-biblical Literature," BSac 224 (1973) 223-34; cf. Antoon 
Schoors, "Literary Phrases," RSP, I, 59-62. 



Schematic Outline of Psalm 45 


Subject Matter 


Progression Type 


(Poetic Introduction) 


Praise of the King 


His Person 



His Position 


Expository (7-8) 
Descriptive (9-10) 





(Poetic Introduction) 


Praise of the Queen 


Her Appearance 


Descriptive/ dramatic 

Her Avowal 


Expository / (dramatic)* 

*For details as to transitional patterns, see the helpful discussion and rich biblio- 
graphical data given by H. van Dyke Parunak, "Transitional Techniques in the Bible," 
JBL 102(1983)525-48. 

and strength (vv 5, 10; cf. Exod 15:6, 12; Ps 16:8, 1 1),^ and the father 
and son (v 17; cf. Pss 2; 89:28f.; 103:13).'" All of these are wedded to 
a basic grid of Hebrew paralleHsm, in this case a rhetorical parallelism 
that fits the stated needs of lyricism for progression, whether descrip- 
tive (vv 3-6, 9-10), dramatic (vv 14-16), argumentative (vv 11-13), 
or expository, as demonstrated not only throughout the psalm but 
especially in vv 7-8 and 17-18." 

Interestingly enough, the poet's variegated employment of lyric 
progression follows closely the transitional patterns of the psalm's 
structure. The psalm falls into two major portions (vv2-10 and 
vv 11-18)— each introduced by the psalmist's own words (v 2 and 
vv 11-13)— after which the first section focuses upon the king, the 
second, the queen. The lyric poem may be analyzed as A/B in form. 
However, the presence of the key term "daughter" linking the two 
halves of the psalm in a concatenatio technique necessitates the refin- 
ing of the pattern. Because the linked term "daughter" in v 10 corre- 
sponds to the subject of the second portion of the poem (forming an 
unbalanced concatenatio), the psalm may be rendered schematically 
Ab/B. Thus, the psalm may be schematized as in Table 1. 

'For discussion of the motif of the right hand, see my note at 2 Kgs 22:2 in the 
forthcoming Expositor's Bible Commentary, vol.4 (Grand Rapids: Zondervan) and 
R. Patterson, "The Song of Deborah," in Tradition and Testament, eds. John S. 
Feinbergand Paul D. Feinberg (Chicago: Moody, 1981) 140, 156. 

'"The concept of God as Father to Israel, his son, is well attested in the OT (e.g., 
Exod 4:21-23; Isa 63:16; Jer 3:4, 19; Hos 11:1, etc.). For the king as God's son, see 
J. H. Eaton, Kingship and the Psalms (Downers Grove: Allenson, 1975) 146-49. 

"For the term rhetorical parallelism (but with wider application), see Kaiser, 
Toward An Exegetical Theology, 222-27; for the isolation and importance of literary 


Psalm Type 

Although it has not always been included among the Royal 
Psalms by form critical scholars, modern scholarship increasingly 
tends to place Psalm 45 in that category.'^ Certainly the elevated tone 
and rich vocabulary of the psalm, as well as its ready application to 
Messiah in both Jewish and Christian traditions, argue that the psalm 
commemmorates the wedding of some king in the Davidic line.'^ 

Further, its title affirms that the psalm is part of a double collec- 
tion of Korahite Psalms (Pss 42-49 and 84-85, 87-89), whose basic 
orientation is the praise of God through the reigning king (cf. v 7 with 
Pss 44:5; 46:6-12; 47; 48:2-4, 9, 15; 84:4; 85:5; 89)." Accordingly, the 
king is God's anointed (v 8, cf. Ps 89:21, 39, 52) through whom God 
is victorious over the nations (vv 4-6, cf. Pss 42-43; 44; 46:8, 10-12; 
47; 48:6-9; 89). The other Korahite Psalms emphasize that the king 
lives in close personal relationship with God and addresses him per- 
sonally (Pss 42:2; 43:1; 44:2; 48:10, 11; 89:47, 50, 52), puts his trust in 
God (Pss 42:6, 12; 43:5; 84:13), and finds in him alone his redemption 
and place of refuge (Pss 43:1; 44:2-9, 24-27; 46:2-8; 47; 48:2-4, 9; 
49:6-8, 15-16; 84:12-13; 85; 87), even in times of exile and distress 
(Pss 42-43; 44; 88). The king is conscious of God's love (Pss 42:9-10; 
44:4-8; 85:8; 89:21-34), reproduces God's righteousness in his life 
(Pss 43:3; 49:15; 84:12-13; 85:11-14; 89:3-6, 15-17), and worships 
him in the appointed services (Pss 42:3-6; 43:3-4; 46:5; 48:10; 84; 
87).'^ In the light of all of this, the psalm may safely be assumed to be 

features common to Ugaritic and Hebrew see the various extended discussions in RSP, 
I, II, III. For a discussion of poetic progression, see C. F. Main and P. J. Seng, Poems 
(Belmont, CA: Wadsworth, 1961) 242-62. 

'^For details see J. H. Eaton, Kingship, 1-86 and also M. Dahood, Psalms (AB; 
Garden City: Doubleday, 1966) 1:270; R. K. Harrison, Introduction to the Old Testa- 
ment (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1969) 991; and J. H. Hayes, An Introduction to Old 
Testament i'mc/v (Nashville: Abingdon, 1979) 312-13. 

''See further, M. Buttenwieser, The Psalms (New York: KTAV, 1969) 83-84; J. H. 
Eaton, The Psalms (London: SCM, 1979) 123. Contrariwise, M. D. Goulder {The 
Psalms of the Sons of Korah [Sheffield: University of Sheffield, 1982] 130-35) argues 
for a Northern Kingdom cultic setting first composed for the marriage of Ahab and 
Jezebel and then utilized in subsequent festal liturgies. 

'"That the Korahite Psalms should have a Davidic/ Royal orientation with special 
attention to the cultus is only natural. The Korahites were closely identified with David 
right from the beginning of his adventures (1 Chron 12:6) and became intimately 
involved with the worship services set by David (cf. 1 Chron 6:18-12; 9:17-34; 26:1-19; 
Ps 84:1 1). The full expression of Korahite theology is found in Psalm 89. 

''Other Korahite emphases are also found in Psalm 45, such as the place of the 
lyricist (v 2, cf. Pss 49:1-5; 89:1-2) and the emphasis on the right hand (vv 5, 8, 10; cf. 
Pss 44:4; 48:11; 89:14, 26, 43). In a very real way all the above features are gathered 


a Royal Psalm celebrating the marriage of a king'^ in the line of 
David (with whom God had entered into everlasting covenant [cf. 
2 Sam 7:12-19; 1 Chron 17:7-27; Ps 89]).'' 

Grammatical- Historical Context 

The question of the origin and Sitz im Leben of the psalm has 
been greatly disputed. Some have suggested a late date in the Persian 
period (understanding the psalm to have been written in honor of the 
bridal ceremony of a Persian queen), '^ or even as late as the Ptolemaic 
period.'^ The majority of modern commentators consider the psalm 
to be pre-exilic. However, here again many suggestions as to the time 
and occasion of its composition have been put forward. Perowne 
retains the older suggestions of Christian tradition that the marriage 
is Solomon's. ^° Hitzig prefers the marriage of Ahab and Jezebel, a 
view followed vigorously by Buttenwieser and Goulder.^' Franz 
Delitzsch argues eloquently for the marriage of Jehoram of the 
Southern Kingdom and Athaliah, daughter of Ahab and Jezebel of 
the Northern Kingdom. ^^ Still others associate the psalm with Jero- 
boam 11^^ or Josiah,^'' or despairing of finding its original royal 
occasion, suggest its lasting quality is found in its annual use in an 
enthronement ceremony or its repeated use at the marriage ceremony 
of subsequent kings. ^^ 

The wide disagreement among scholars as to the Psalm's Sitz im 
Leben makes a final assignment to any specific occasion most tenuous. 
Perhaps Delitzsch's view is most commendable. Linguistically, while 
the poem should probably not be understood to be as thoroughly 

together in Psalm 89. For the place of the Korahite Psalms within the several collec- 
tions of the Psalter, see O. Eissfeldt, The Old Testament An Introduction, trans. P. R. 
Ackroyd (New York: Harper, 1976) 449-50. 

'^The attempts of T. H. Caster ("Psalm 45," JBL 74 [1955] 239-51) to interpret 
the psalm as non-royal seem ill-conceived. 

"For the place of Psalm 45 among the Messianic Psalms, see below. 

'^See the discussion in J. J. S. Perowne, 77?^ Book of Psalms (Grand Rapids: 
Zondervan, 1976) 1:367. 

"See e.g., M. Buttenwieser, The Psalms, 84. 

^''Perowne, Psalms, 1:366-69. The identification of the proposed Solomonic bride 
is also in dispute, some opting for the daughter of Pharaoh, others for the daughter of 
Hiram of Tyre. 

^'See Buttenwieser, Psalms 85-89; and M. Goulder, Psalms of Korah, 133-35. 

"See Delitzsch, Psalms, 1:74-76. 

^'Buttenwieser, Psalms, 84. 

^"See J. Mulder, Studies on Psalm 45 (Witsiers: Almelo, 1972). 

"See J. H. Eaton, Kingship, 1 18-20; cf. J. Goldingay, Songs from a Strange Land 
(Downers Grove: InterVarsity, 1978) 81; and N. R. Lightfoot, Jesus Christ Today 
(Grand Rapids: Baker, 1976)61. 


Canaanite as Dahood understands it to be, there does appear to be a 
number of Phoenician/ North Canaanite forms (e.g. m'7nx / 'aloes', 
and myxj? / 'cassia', v 9 [which may well have the feminine ending 
n- rather than the normal South Canaanite ending n^-], IT'D'S'' / 
'you are the fairest', v 3, a form with reduplicated root like Ugaritic 
d^d^ I 'know well', and possibly, as Dahood insists, m'?inD / 'virgin', 
V 15).^^ 

Moreover, the prevalence of international commodities (e.g. DHD 
■|"'DTX/'gold of Ophir', v 10; and |U?/'ivory', v 9) is reminiscent of 
Phoenician trading activities (cf. 1 Kgs 9:28; 10:11-12, 22, 25)." The 
mention of an ivory palace (v 9) reminds one of the well-known 
palace of Ahab, Athaliah's father (1 Kgs 22:39).^* Further, North 
Canaanite/ Phoenician connections may be found in the particular 
mention of the daughter of Tyre (v 13).^^ 

The union of the long feuding houses of Israel through the 
marriage of Jehoram and Athaliah would certainly serve as a momen- 
tous occasion, well worthy of commemoration in song. All of this 
suggests that Delitzsch's theory is not without merit. Nevertheless, 
Craigie's cautious dictum should be given due weight: 

But having affirmed in principle that the song, in its initial setting, 
should be related to a particular occasion, it should also be admitted 
that no firm decision can be made with respect to its historical origin. . . . 
All that can be affirmed with reasonable certainty is that the psalm 
originated at some point in the history of the Hebrew monarchy.^" 


Although its precise original setting lacks final identification, this 
psalm itself may nonetheless be examined as a canonical composition, 

"M. Dahood, Psalms, 1:275 remarks, "that b^tulot is singular is evident from the 
suffixes of ^ah''reha and re "oteha, which suppose an antecedent in the singular. Hence 
the morphology of htlwt is Phoenician, like that of Prov ix 1, etc., hokmot, 'Wisdom,' 
which has been rightly explained by W. F. Albright in VTS, III (1955), p. 8, where he 
compares hokmot with Phoen. milkot (for *milkat), 'Queen' (name of a deity)!" 

"One might also possibly read ]W ]0\y an Egyptian lily oil (cf. Coptic SoSen, 
'lily'; note also the title WWW'^V 'upon the lilies') for MT pjyiy ]nw C. Krahmalkov 
once suggested to me that the enigmatic rtD""?? 'within' may really conceal the name 

^^For details, see my remarks at 2 Kgs 22:39 in the forthcoming Expositor's Bible 
Commentary. Note also the mention of ivory in the condemnation of the King of Tyre 
inEzek27:6, 15. 

^'Note also the use of the foreign loan word for queen in v 10: bw doubtless from 
Akkadian Sa ekallT / 'the one of the foreign lands' (cf. Neh 2:6 and Dan 5:2). Perhaps 
the granddaughter of the Tyrian king Ethbaal would appropriately be called by such a 

'°Craigie, Psalms 1-50, 338. 


which, due to inspiration of God, has abiding theological value and 
devotional application for all its readers. 

Contextual Analysis 

As noted in the previous literary analysis, after the title (v 1) the 
psalm may be divided into two major segments: (1) in praise of the 
king (vv 2-10) and (2) in praise of the queen (vv 11-18). Each seg- 
ment is introduced by the psalmist's own words about the object of 
his singing (vv 2, 11-13). The psalm may be outlined as follows: 

Title (vl) 

I. In praise of the king (vv 2-10) 

A. Poetic prelude (v 2) 

B. His portrayal (vv 3-6) 

C. His position (vv 7-10) 

II. In praise of the queen (vv 11-18) 

A. Poetic advice (vv 11-13) 

B. Her appearance (vv 14-16) 

C. Her avowal (vv 17-18). 

In Praise of the King 

In his love song composed for the royal wedding, the psalmist 
"pictures" himself as present at the various stages of the wedding 
preparations. First he sees himself seated within the royal dressing 
chambers at the robing of the king. He awaits his opportunity to sing 
the king's praises: 

My heart is astir 

With a goodly word. 

I myself would surely sing, 

My composition to the king; 

(For) my tongue is the pen 

Of a talented bard.^' 

As a prelude to the entire psalm, the poet reports his extreme 
excitement at the prospect of performing his song which had been 
composed for the occasion. It was doubtless sung to musical accom- 
paniment. He mentions the fluttering of his heart;^^ yet, he hopes that 

"thq IDiO / 'proficient scribe'. With all the skill of the most expert scribe, the 
psalmist's tongue would move through his composition. For discussion of the songful- 
ness of the whole verse, see Buttenwieser, Psalms, 89. 

"Cf. Akkadian rahasu, 'be astir', and Arabic rahasa, 'flutter', 'move'. 


his words will be articulate and appropriate so that his tongue moves 
as skillfully as the pen of a proficient scribe." 

The prelude finished (v 2), the poet begins his lyric with a 
progressive description that portrays the robing of the king (vv 3-6). 
He begins with the king's person: 

You are the fairest of men 
Grace(iousness) flows from your lips 
Therefore God has blessed you forever, 
[v. 3] 

He is the fairest of men.^" He has above all an inner, God-given 
beauty that is demonstrated in the outward expressions of life (cf. 
Prov 22:11; Eccl 10:12; Luke 4:22). Accordingly, God has granted to 
him an everlasting blessedness — the very graciousness of the king is 
evidence that God has blessed him. 

The psalmist moves next to a description of the king's robing: 

Gird your sword upon (your) thigh 

"The hero of (your) strength and majesty" 

And by your majesty, succeed! 

Mount up upon "For the word of truth" 
And (so) bring justice to/defend the poor. 

Then may your right hand teach you awesome things, 

(With) your sharpened arrows 

Peoples shall fall beneath you, 

(Pierced) through the heart, the enemies of the king. 

[vv 4-6] 

These verses are extremely difficult. One needs only to glance at 
the various versions and translations and notice the efforts of the 
commentators to see the widely differing results. These verses remain 
a crux interpretum. 

The following discussion suggests that vv 4-5 are built around a 
double imperative with the whole image being closed by a jussive of 
wish in v 6. These verses, then, describe ideally the investiture of the 
king. His are the garments of a heroic and mighty warrior. He is to 
put on his mighty sword, "The Hero of Strength and Majesty," by 

"Buttenwieser may be right in suggesting that the mood of the verb is one of wish, 
not an indicative; see Buttenwieser, Psalms, 82, 89. The poet's essential modesty is thus 

^■"The Hebrew Vy'rVD form seems to be used here of an action which by repeated 
use produces a qualitative state of character. See further, GKC § 55e. Craigie, Psalms 
1-50, 336 calls attention to Ugaritic tipp, 'she beautifies herself. 


which he shall surely succeed. He is to mount up^^ upon his royal 
chariot, "For the Word of Truth," and so ride out to bring justice to 
all, especially to the downtrodden and disadvantaged of society. 
Accordingly, by his strong right hand he shall learn many awesome 
things and by his skillful bowmanship, the king's enemies shall fall 
beneath him.^^ 

Thus understood, this passage falls into line with the naming 
practices of the ancient Near East. Names were extremely important, 
being used not only to identify persons but, at times, to be descriptive 
of one's nature or character." Indeed, he who or that which had no 
name, in a sense, did not exist. ^^ Thus, the Akkadian phrase mala sa 

"Vy 33T often means "mount up upon" (cf. Akkadian rakabu, see AHW, 944 and 
the informative discussion of G. Liedke in THA T, 2:778-82). See especially 1 Sam 25:42; 
2 Sam 19:27; 1 Kgs 13:13-14; 18:45; and 2 Kgs9:16 where 331 is used of mounting 
together with an accompanying activity. Such familiar phrases as m3iy3 33T / 'rider 
on the clouds', (Ps 68:5; cf. Ugaritic rkb ^rpt) and U'<nvr\ 331 / 'he who rides the 
heavens' (Deut 33:26; cf. Ps 68:34), as well as Vp 3y-'7i; 331 / 'he who rides upon a 
swift cloud', (Isa 19:1) may all likewise be understood as "he who mounts/ is mounted 
upon the clouds/ heavens." The meaning "ride upon" is, of course, equally possible. If 
this latter meaning is the proper one for Psalm 45, the two verses here anticipate the 
description of Christ the victor in Rev 19:11-16. For a full description of the divine 
epithet, see A. Cooper, "Divine Names and Epithets in the Ugaritic Texts," RSP, 
3:458-60. For an interesting discussion as to the background of the picture in Rev 
19:11-16 see R. H. Mounce, The Book of Revelation (NICNT; Grand Rapids: Eerd- 
mans, 1977) 343-48. 

"The last line of v 6 defies final solution. The troublesome 3*73 may hide some 
well-understood elliptical phrase such as "smitten in/ pierced through the heart." For 
brachylogy formed by omission of a clearly understood verb, see R. J. Williams, 
Hebrew Syntax (2d ed.; Toronto: University of Toronto, 1976) § 591. For the motif of 
the vanquished foe lying beneath the feet of the victor, see A. H. Gardiner, Egypt of 
the Pharaohs (Oxford: Clarendon, 1961) 286; cf. ANET, 136. 

"See further, R. deVaux, Ancient Israel (New York: McGraw-Hill, 1961) 43-48. 

^* Although U. Cassuto {A Commentary on the Book of Genesis, trans. I. Abrahams 
[Jerusalem: Magnes, 1978] 1:130) is correct in pointing out that Adam's naming of the 
animals underscored his God-given leadership over them, and H. C. Leupold (Exposi- 
tion of Genesis [Gxdind Rapids: Baker, 1942] 1:131-32) and C. F. Keil and F. Delitzsch 
{Biblical Commentary on the Pentateuch [Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1956] 1:89 are 
right in emphasizing that the various animal names are given with deep insight into 
their character, in a full sense their very existence depended upon being named (from a 
Semitic point of view). Notice, for example, the opening lines of the Enuma Elish 

When on high the heaven had not been named. 

Firm ground below had not been called by name, . . . 

When no gods whatever had been brought into being. 

Uncalled by name, their destinies undetermined — 

Then it was that the gods were formed within them. 

Lahmu and Lahamu were brought forth, by name they were called. 


suma nabu / 'everything which is called by/ bears a name' means any- 
thing that exists at all. The Code of Hammurapi expresses this idea 
by the phrase awilutum sa sumam nabiat / '(any) man who is called 
by/ bears a name'/^ In the Egyptian Book of the Dead, the report 
that "my name was not carried off" means that the man himself was 
not so treated/" 

Not only persons and animals but objects were considered to be 
sharers in the essential nature of their name. E. Lefebvre observes: 

The name of a person or a thing is an effective representation of it, and 
thus becomes the object itself in a less substantial and more adaptable 
form, which is more susceptible to intellectual treatment: in short, it 
forms a mental substitute. . . . The name, which we regard as an image 
of the object in question, seems consequently to be an essential element 
or projection of it."*' 

Hence, in the ancient Near East everything was given a name: 
gods, the months of the year (months were named after gods), per- 
sons, and cities (e.g. "Bond of heaven and earth," i.e., Nippur; cf. 
Jer 33:16, Ezek 48:35). Temples received such names as Egirzalanki, 
"The temple which is the joy of heaven and earth," and palaces and 
their courts bear such illustrious names as "May Nebuchadnezzar 
live, may he who provided for Esagila live to old age" (cf. 1 Kgs 7:2) 
and "Court of the Row of the Socles of the Igigi." Gates bore names 
such as "Enlil keeps the foundation of my city secure" and "Ninlil 
creates abundance" (cf. Ezek 48:35-39; Neh 2:13-15; Acts 3:2), as did 
walls (e.g., "Baal has shown it favor" [cf. Neh 3:8]) and canals (e.g., 
"Hammurapi is the source of abundance for mankind").'*^ 

For the purposes of the context of Ps 45:4-5, it is important to 
notice that, much as Prince Valiant had his "Singing Sword" or 
Alexander the Great had his famous warhorse Bucephalus, weapons 
were often similarly named in the ancient Near East: 

Enlil raised the bo(w, his wea)pon, and laid (it) before them. 
The gods, his fathers, saw the net he had made. 
When they beheld the bow, how skillful its shape. 

See G. R. Driver and J. C. Miles, The Babylonian Laws (Oxford: Clarendon, 
1960), 2:100, 292; cf. CAD, "N," 1:35. 

""See the notice by G. Contenau, Everyday Life in Babylon and Assyria (New 
York: Norton, 1966) 161. 

■"As cited by Ibid. See, also the dynamic quality of the divine name as discussed 
by T. Boman, Hebrew Thought Compared with Greek (New York: Norton, 1970) 

''^See the extended discussion in G. Contenau, Everyday Life, 158-62; see also 
CAD, "N," 1:33-35. Note also the Solomonic pillers, Jakin and Boaz (1 Kgs 7:21). 


His fathers praised the work he had wrought. 

Raising (it), Anu spoke up in the Assembly of the gods, 

As he kissed the bow: "This is my daughter!" 

He named the names of the bow as follows: 

"Longwood is the first, the second is ( . . . ); 

Its third name is Bow-Star, in heaven I have made it shine. "''^ 

The Ugaritic god Kothar-w^-Hassis named the two weapons that he 
gave to Baal, Yagrus / 'Driver' and Aymur / 'Expeller'. Sennacherib 
named his javeUn "Piercer of throats," his battle helmet "Emblem of 
battle," and his chariots "Conqueror of enemies," and "Vanquisher of 
the wicked and evil."'*" 

If the Israelite king is viewed as possessing named battle weapons, 
they all would bear designations especially appropriate to the king's 
role as God's earthly representative. They would depict his struggle 
against the forces of evil and for the cause of righteousness."'^ The 
sword would symbolize the God-given strength which alone would 
guarantee triumph against his and God's foes. His chariot would 
remind him of his obligation to effect the justice of the poor and 
disadvantaged, so often an object of exploitation. The poetic chal- 
lenges remind one of Hammurapi's famous boasts that the gods had 
called him, "To make justice appear in the land, to destroy the evil 
and wicked (and so that) the strong might not oppress the weak," and 
"so that the strong might not oppress the weak (so as) to give justice 
to the orphaned (homeless) girl and to the widow. "''^ As God himself, 
the king will triumph gloriously (and God would triumph through the 
king).'*^ The enemy, being felled by the unswervingly accurate arrows 
propelled from the king's bow, would lie prostrate and trampled under 

The ideal representation of the robed king gives way to an 
expository analysis of his royal position: 

''A NET, 69. 

"""R. Borger, Babylonisch- Assyrische Lesestiicke (Roma: Pontificium Institutum 
Biblicum, 1963) 3:49, 50 (Sennacherib, V, 68-73; VI, 7-8). For the Ugaritic sources, 
seeC. Gordon, UT, 316. 

""Craigie {Psalms 1-50, 339) aptly remarks, "he has a warrior's sword, but its 
use ... is such that he is accorded characteristics normally reserved for God, namely 
'splendor' and 'majesty' (v. 4; cf. Ps 96:6). His battles are on behalf of truth, humility 
and righteousness (v. 5); his enemies, against whom he rides out in battle, are the 
enemies of the same virtues, and therefore must be conquered." For the figure of God 
as a mighty, fully equipped warrior riding forth in his battle chariot, see Hab 3:8-15; 
Ps 18:14ff.; 77:15-18. 

"'See CH la:32-39; XXIVb:59-62. For the prevalence of similar themes through- 
out the ancient Near East, see the bibliographical data in n. 8. 

"Cf. Exod 15:6, 12, see also n. 9. 


Your throne, O God 

Is forever;''^ 

A sceptre of righteousness 

Is the sceptre of your kingdom. 

You have loved righteousness and hated wickedness; 
Therefore, God, your God, has anointed you 
With the oil of gladness above your companions. 

[vv 7-8] 

The supposed difficulty of calling the idealized king DTl'px was 
addressed long ago by Delitzsch: 

And since elsewhere earthly authorities are also called QTiVn, Ex. xxi. 6, 
xxii. 7 sq., Ps. Ixxxii., cf. cxxxviii.l, because they are God's representa- 
tives and the bearers of His image upon earth, so the king who is 
celebrated in this Psalm may be all the more readily styled Elohim, 
when in his heavenly beauty, his irrestistible doxa of glory, and his 
divine holiness, he seems to the psalmist to be the perfected realization 
of the close relationship in which God has set David and his seed to 

It was because the earthly Davidic king ideally personified God on 
the throne that he could justly be called god.^'^ God, then, reigned 
through the king who, as did his sovereign who had anointed him, 
was to love righteousness and hate wickedness — righteousness was to 
be the very sceptre of his kingdom. 

Ps 45:7 was considered messianic by Jewish and early Christian 
interpreters alike. One need not become enmeshed in controversy 
over whether the words have direct/ primary reference to Christ or to 
a Judean king. Based on the Davidic Covenant (2 Sam 7:12-29; 
I Chron 17:7-27; and Psalm 89) which remains inviolable (cf. Jer 
23:5-6; 33:14-17; and Ezek 34:20-24; 37:21-28), the promise of God 

" Virtually every conceivable means of translating the opening lines of v 7 has been 
tried: (1) Your throne is God forever, (2) Your throne of God is forever, (3) Your 
throne is like God's, forever, (4) May your throne be divine forever, (5) God has 
enthroned you forever, (6) The eternal and everlasting God has enthroned you, etc. 
The translation of WTibn as a vocative (which nearly all expositors concede is the 
straightforward sense of the Hebrew) is fully defensible here. See further A. M. Harman, 
"The Syntax and Interpretation of Psalm 45:7," The Law and the Prophets, eds. J. H. 
Skilton, M. C. Fisher and L. W. Sloat (Philadelphia: Presbyterian and Reformed, 
1974) 337-47. 

"F. Delitzsch, Psalms, 2:83; see further M. Goulder, Psalms of Korah, 130. 

'"See also 2 Sam 23:2-7. For a detailed discussion of the relationship of God to 
the Davidic king who was to rule as though he were identified with God himself and 
who was to live out God's person and standards in his life, see J. H. Eaton, Kingship, 


is irrevocable, whether appHed to David, his royal descendants or to 
the greater descendant, Christ himself (cf. Luke 1:68-69 and Acts 

The mention of the king's anointing" becomes the hook/ linkage 
to return to a description of the present ceremony. Similarly, the 
mentioning of stringed instruments out of the palace is a springboard 
for envisioning the time when the king shall stand in the palace, his 
new queen beside him: 

Myrrh and Aloes, cassia (too) 
(Are) all your garments; 
From an ivory palace, 
Stringed instruments make you glad. 

Craigie sets the scene well: 

The anointing with oil (v. 8) refers poetically to the anointing of the 
king for his royal task, but the immediate point of reference is probably 
to be found in the activities of the wedding ceremony as such; the king 
would be anointed as a part of the preparation for the celebration 
itself. . . . After the anointing, the groom would be decked in royal 
robes, fragrant with precious perfumes (v. 9a); in the background, the 
stringed instruments can already be heard striking up their music 

The general facts concerning the ancient Near Eastern wedding 
ceremony are clear and the details of the psalm fit well those data.^'* 

'^'Although some poetry is designedly prophetic (cf. Ps 16:10 with Acts 2:25-31), 
such need not be the case here. For the relationship of poetry and prophecy, see W. C. 
Kaiser, Jr., "The Promise to David in Psalm 16 and Its Application in Acts 2:25-33 
and 13:32-37," JETS 23 (1980) 207-18; D.N. Freedman, "Pottery, Poetry, and 
Prophecy: An Essay on Biblical Poetry," in The Bible in Its Literary Milieu, eds. V. L. 
Tollers and J. R. Maier (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1979) 92-98. N. R. Lightfoot (Jesus 
Christ Today, 61) appropriately remarks, "The psalm is an ideal representation of the 
king and his kingdom, not a description of things as they actually were at any one time 
in history. The author of Hebrews regards the passage as intensely messianic and sees 
the reign of the Messiah as the perfect fulfilment of the ideal depicted in the Old 
Testament." For the relationship of the Davidic Covenant and the Royal Psalms, see 
W. C. Kaiser, Jr., Toward an Old Testament Theology (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 
1978) 159-64. 

'^For the "oil of gladness," see n. 27. The placing of God's anointing of the king 
after a discussion of the enthroned king may be intentional, containing a veiled hint of 
Messiah. The precise order for the present arrangement of the Korahite Psalms as a 
whole can be discerned in terms of linkage, each succeeding psalm containing some 
distinct hook to the immediately preceeding psalm. 

"Craigie, Psalms 1-50, 339. 

'■"See deVaux, Ancient Israel, 33-34; cf. Goldingay, Songs, 81. 


Here, having sketched the lovely scene of the pleasantries of the 
occasion (the anointing [v 8b], the sweet smelling garments" and the 
fine music [v 9]),^^ the poet foregoes chronological description" to 
carry through his discussion concerning the king to that moment 
when his bride^* will stand in the marriage hall of the palace beside 
him, a lovely treasure bedecked in garments woven of finest gold 
(V 10). 

The/ a princess is with/ among your prized ladies 
The queen stands at your right hand 

(Clothed in) the gold of Ophir. ~^ 


In approaching this time, the author thus provides himself with a 
hook by which to turn his attention to the bride herself (vv 11-16). 

In Praise of the Queen 

As with the former section, so this portion begins with the words 
of the poet. Having approached the time when his bride shall stand 
beside her royal groom, the psalmist interrupts his narrative with 
some words of wisdom: 

Hear, O daughter, and see 
Yea, incline your ear; 
Forget your people 
And your father's house. 

"For the importance of spices in the Ancient Near East see G. W. Van Beek, 
"Frankincense and Myrrh," BA 23 (1960) 69-95. For the significance of myrrh in 
relation to the visit of the magi at the birth of Christ, see R. Patterson, "Special Guests 
at the First Christmas," Fundamentalist Journal, 2 (1983) 31-32, 39. 

"'JO is frequently emended to D^JO ("stringed instruments"). It may, of course, 
also be pointed as a plural construct followed by a verbal sentence: "The stringed 
instruments which make you glad" (cf. GKC § 130d). The fact that the palace here 
would be the groom's does not set aside the custom that musicians would come from 
both courts when royal marriages were involved. This may account for the use of the 
plural form for "palaces" in this verse. All of this, together with the details relative to 
the "ivory palace," may help in determining the occasion for the psalm. See n. 28. 

"For the interruption of chronology for topical purposes in narrative structure, 
see my remarks concerning literary form in the forthcoming Expositor's Bible Com- 
mentary volume on Kings. 

^^Since VjU? is singular, probably the corresponding parallel term that precedes, 
n32, should be viewed as a dialectical singular rather than being retained as a plural 
(despite the presence of a harem). Although some have suggested that the queen 
involved might have been the dowager, the flow of the narrative argues for the bride 
herself. If the queen in question was Athaliah, the term retains a certain appropriate- 
ness; see n. 29. 


Let the king desire your beauty 
For he is your master; 
Bow down to him, 

And the daughter of Tyre (shall come) with a gift. 
The wealthiest of people shall entreat your favor. 

[vv 11-13] 

As he had charged the anointed king (v 3), so he admonishes the 
queen/'' She is to take careful note of his words and understand that 
past allegiances are now secondary. "Forget your people and your 
family" — the language is designedly hyperbolic to remind her that as 
no longer merely a princess but a queen, her primary obligation is to 
the king of Judah (God's appointed ruler). Further, her very sub- 
servience to him, proper as it is (he is her master), will have personal 
and practical benefits. The king will desire her in all her beauty all the 
more.^° Moreover, personal recognition will come to her,^' for wealthy 
people^^ will entreat her favor with rich gifts. ^^ 

Now the poet allows his audience to see the bride herself: 

All glorious is the princess within; 
Her garment is made from finely worked gold. 
Over a richly textured carpet, she is led to the king; 
The virgins, her companions, behind her, being brought to you. 
They are conducted with joy and gladness; entering the palace of the 

[vv 14-16] 

^'Notice that the hook n]3, now cast in proper southern dialect, n3, undergoes 
word play in this section (vv 11, 13) and also serves as a key term in the next subsection 
beginning with v 14. Note also the familiar poet's device of mixing imperative and 
jussive forms. 

''"The bride's beauty (HD') stands in (inferior) parallel to the extolling of the king 

^'nX'nai can be variously understood: (I) of the bride, the waw being vocative, 
(2) of the Queen of Tyre (could it be an indication of the bride's people and family 
whom she has been charged to forget, thus making her a Phoenician princess?), (3) of 
the Tyrians, the term being used as a designation for the nation/ city itself as is common 
in the prophets (so Leupold), or (4) of a "Tyrian robe" (so Dahood, reading bot sor); 
but such a pointing ignores the word play on n3, 'daughter'. Likewise, Dahood's 
suggestion to take DV 'Ttyj? as "banquet guests" is extremely forced. 

*^Whether the phrase refers to rich Tyrians only or to rich people in general is 

"nVn (cf. Arabic hala^) means to "be sweet," "make soft," hence the force, "con- 
ciliate." The climactic parallelism determines that both the Queen of Tyre and the 
wealthy shall seek her favor with suitable gifts. 

^''Notice again that n3 is the hook that carries the poem to the next discussion. 


In her quarters within the palace,^^ the princess is seen in all her 
finery. Her inner happiness radiates both from her person and through 
the splendid wedding dress of delicately woven gold. She is "all 

The narrative progresses. The bride, now attired in her richly 
embroidered garments is ready for the festive occasion. Here she 
comes! She is escorted out of her chambers and to the marriage hall 
of the palace by her ladies-in-waiting.^^ It is a happy scene. Amidst 
songs of love and unrestrained joy,^' the princess reaches the palace, 
enters the great hall, travels down the richly variegated rug laid down 
for the occasion,^^ and takes her place beside the king. 

Here the scene breaks off.^^ There is no mention of the great 
feast that doubtless followed. '° Rather, the poet leaves his hearers 
with these words: 

''riD'aS 'within', may be elliptical. Buttenwieser (Psalms, 91) suggests some such 
phrase as na'JS H'S 'in the palace' (cf. 2Kgs7:ll). Since the bride is led to the 
palace proper in v 16, the word would then, as Kidner (Psalms 1-72, 173) points out, 
refer to her dressing chambers. M. Goulder (Psalms of Korah, 135-36), suggests that 
na''3D designates the women's quarters to which the bride goes to lay aside her day 
clothing to put on her "still more splendid night attire." Thus, clad in beautiful 
embroidered night attire, she is carried on a richly embroidered sedan chair to the 
king's chambers, accompanied by her escorts, and to the cheers of the watching crowd 
(w 14-15). Certainly n?D''3D has occasioned many interpretive guesses. My wife's sug- 
gestion that the word may refer to the bride-to-be's inner radiance and happiness 
which rivals the external splendor of her wedding garment is not without merit. 

''^Because the person of the king is the chief focus of the poem (even here in the 
description of the bridal possession), the queen is pictured as coming to the prince/ king. 
The enallage, so common in poetry (cf. Song of Solomon), is understandable and 
makes unnecessary suggestions to emend the text. 

''Cf. Jer 16:9. 

**Dahood (Psalms, 1:275) suggests reading lirqamot here and understanding the 
word to refer to a group of professional brocaders (cf. 2 Kgs 23:7). He notes the 
presence of those who did brocading in gold in ancient Ugarit. Most commentators 
retain the idea of the queen's variegated garments, mentioned in the previous verse. I 
am inclined to follow the suggestion of Perowne (Psalms, 1:378-79) who conjectures 
that the reference is to a richly colored tapestry laid down before the palace over which 
the bridal procession would enter into the marriage hall: "But I think Maurer is right in 
rendering In stragulis versi-coloribus. He observes that the dress of the bride has 
already been mentioned twice, ver. 9(10), and 13(14); and that the prep. "? is not used of 
motion to a place, but of rest in a place. It is used of walking on, or over, Hab. i.6." 
Maurer's observation regarding the use of the preposition has been reenforced in recent 
days by M. D. Futato, "The Preposition 'Beth' in the Hebrew Psalter," WTJ ^\ (1978) 
68-83, who emphasizes that b means "position at, pertaining to or belonging to" 
(p. 71). Futato's careful presentation of the data relative to the idiomatic employment 
of preposition plus verb in the Northwest Semitic languages, constitutes a needed 
correction to those who would freely interchange or find excessive overlap in the 
semantic fields of the various Hebrew prepositions. 

*'So understood, the descriptions of both groom (v 10) and bride (v 16) end with 
the mention of the palace. 

'"See deVaux, Ancient Israel, 34. 


Instead of your fathers, will be your sons; 

You will set them as princes throughout the land. 

I shall make your name to be remembered through all generations; 

Therefore shall peoples thank you forever and ever! 

[vv 17-18] 

Since the object of the address given in the MT is masculine, the 
words must be intended for the king. But who is the speaker? It is 
frequently assumed to be the psalmist himself. Yet one must not 
forget, as Buttenwieser has stated in another connection, that modesty 
was becoming to the ancient singer no less than the modern one.^' 
Accordingly, although the psalmist may have used imperatives to 
encourage the king to perform his royal functions in righteousness 
(vv 4-5) and to admonish the foreign princess (vv 11-13), it seems 
unlikely that he would assert that in the flow of history, as the royal 
family grew and (ideally) extended its sway, the psalmist's poem would 
cause the king's name to be everlastingly remembered. 

Two other possibilities commend themselves. (1) The poet may 
be recording God's own added blessing on the occasion, renewing his 
promise to his earthly representative — a pledge that will find con- 
sumation in the messianic king. (2) The words may contain the loving 
commitment of the bride to the king. Since a bride did not speak at 
all at an ancient Near Eastern wedding ceremony, these words would 
then be part of the exchange of the royal pair within the wedding 
chambers. If so, the psalm ends on a note of tender intimacy. 


Contextual Application 

Although no final decision was made for the setting of the psalm 
in this paper, it has been noted that an excellent case can be made for 
the wedding of Jehoram and Athaliah. Assuming for the moment 
that Delitzsch is correct in assigning this psalm to that event, it is 
instructive to note the lessons of history. 

Certainly it is true that a lasting marriage must be based upon 
more than physical attraction. Interestingly enough, while the psalmist 
praises the beauty of the queen in her lovely attire, nothing is said of 
her spiritual or moral qualities. Indeed, if that princess was Athaliah, 
the omission is all the more meaningful. Athaliah was to prove herself 
every bit the reflection of her mother, Jezebel. For, when Jehoram 
had died and his son Ahaziah was killed in the wild events surround- 
ing Jehu's coup d'etat (2 Kgs 8:28-29; 9:14-29), Athaliah seized the 

"See n. 33. 


power of state for herself, killing all the royal males except for Joash, 
who had been concealed by Jehosheba and Jehoiada (2 Kgs 11:1-3). 
She subsequently initiated her mother's debased pagan religion into 
the Southern Kingdom and ruled wickedly for some seven years. 

Nor was the ideal king, Jehoram, any real bargain. Although he 
is commemorated as a capable warrior, he is also remembered as a 
wicked king who slew all his brothers (who might have proved to be 
rivals to the throne of Jehoshaphat) and was probably influenced by 
his wife's heathenism. Accordingly, God punished Judah with revolts 
and outright invasion, and Jehoram was personally afflicted with an 
incurable disease. So loathsome was this man, that he was buried 
without proper state ceremony (2 Chronicles 21). 


The importance of the person of the king has been noticed. In a 
very real sense Psalm 45, as the Korahite Psalms in general, is a 
reminder that the welfare of God's people was intricately intertwined 
with and indissoluably bound to the person of the king. Not only the 
king's prosperity and well being, but his character and spiritual 
privileges as well were to be shared by all the community of believers. ^^ 
Therefore, the Psalms, and particularly the Royal Psalms, as expres- 
sions of personal commitment and communion with God, took on a 
dimension of reality for all the members of the covenant community. 

This is no less true for today's believer, for the One in whom the 
psalmist's song finds full application has come. Far more than any 
earthly member of the Davidic line, the anointed one, Christ is that 
mighty warrior (cf. Isa 9:6). He is the Mighty God who has conquered 
Satan, sin and death by his victory on the cross (Col 2:15) and 
resurrection from the dead (Acts 2:30-36; 1 Cor 15:50-57). A con- 
quering, ascended king, he ever leads a victorious host in his retinue, 
properly attired and equipped for spiritual battle (Eph 6:12-17). Not 
only are his subjects "dressed in his righteousness alone, faultless to 
stand before the throne, "^^ but they have also been invested with the 
weaponry that will equip them to be victorious in their spiritual war- 
fare (Eph 6:10-18; cf. Isa 59:17). "Thanks be to God who always 
leads us in triumph in Christ Jesus" (2 Cor 2:14)! 

His shall be the ultimate victory over the ungodly forces of this 
world in that great climactic battle that Ezekiel, Joel and Zechariah 
so vividly prophesied. John pictures that coming to earth in terms 
reminiscent of Psalm 45: 

See Eaton, Kingship, 165-68. 
'Edward Mote, "The Solid Rock." 


I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white 
horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True. With justice he judges 
and makes war. His eyes are like blazing fire, and on his head are many 
crowns. He has a name written on him that no one but he himself 
knows. He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood, and his name is the 
Word of God. The armies of heaven were following him, riding on 
white horses and dressed in fine linen, white and clean. Out of his 
mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations. 
"He will rule them with an iron scepter." He treads the winepress of the 
fury of the wrath of God Almighty. On his robe and on his thigh he 
has this name written: king of kings and lord of lords. ^'' 

Meanwhile, Christ continues to reign in the hearts and lives of all 
those who make up his earthly train of followers so that they may 
share in his eternal riches (2 Cor 8:9). Far more than any idealized 
king, Christ is a God of all goodliness. Because all moral perfection 
resides in him, as his ambassadors Christians are to reflect his charac- 
ter in all their living (Eph 4:1-5:20; Col 3:1-17). 

The consideration of the bride of the psalm also arrests one's 
theological attention. The Christian believer is the bride of Christ 
(2 Cor 11:1-4; Eph 5:25-27). Paul admonished the waiting bride of 
Christ to be faithful and so to have a productive marriage. For that 
reason the church has been married to her saving husband and has 
become one spirit with him, her body having become the temple of 
the Holy Spirit (1 Cor 6:15-19). As his bride, she is to keep herself 
pure (1 John 3:1-3), remembering the wedding price that Christ him- 
self has paid (1 Cor 6:20). She is to be obedient to him who loved her 
and sacrificed himself for her (Gal 2:20). As a thankful bride, she is to 
rejoice in her heavenly husband and allow his life to be lived out in 
hers (Col 3:1-4). 


Scholarship, yes! Surely Christian scholars need to bring their 
best critical faculties to this and other portions of the Scriptures so 
that the precise truth of the Word may be more clearly perceived. But 
in so doing, scholarship must ever be directed to knowing more inti- 
mately him who is the truth. 

The victorious king, the heavenly bridegroom, has done so much 
for his own. Christians stand accepted in the Beloved One (Col 
1:12-14); they have been taken into union with him and so have free 
access to God the Father (Eph 1:15-2:22; Heb4:16, 19-23). They 

''Rev 19:11-16, Af/K. 


have been granted the high privilege of enjoying Hfe in all of its God- 
intended abundant fulness (John 10:10). Because Christians are sub- 
jects who are vitally united to the King of Kings, they no less than the 
OT saints with their kings, are challenged to enter into its abiding 
content; its prayer and praise are theirs. What an impetus to com- 
munion, worship, walk, and witness! What a privilege and responsi- 
bility! May the marriage vows of everlasting fidelity to the Heavenly 
Husband heartily be renewed so that the bride is holy and effectively 
productive. Thus, there will be ever greater joy when Christians shall 
at last see him face to face. Perhaps then the modern poet's song will 
become ours too: 

Oh I am my Beloved's, and my Beloved's mine! 
He brings a poor vile sinner into His "house of wine." 
I stand upon His merit — 1 know no other stand. 
Not e'en where glory dwelleth in Immanuel's land. 

The Bride eyes not her garment but her dear Bridegroom's face; 
I will not gaze at glory but on my King of grace. 
Not at the crown He giveth but on His pierced hand; 
The Lamb is all the glory of Immanuel's land." 

Anne Ross Cousins, "The Sands of Time." 

Grace Theological Journal 6. 1 (1985) 49-66 


David Alan Black 

Examination of the external and internal evidence for the reading 
of John 3:13 indicates that the longer reading (which includes the 
clause 6 a>v iv Ta> ovpavcb) should be regarded as authentic. This 
longer reading has extensive external attestation. Furthermore, tran- 
scriptional probabilities and John's style and theology lend strong 
internal support for this reading. Therefore, John 3:13 is a proof of 
the omnipresence of the earthly Jesus. 


TEXT-CRITICAL Studies on the Gospel of John have concentrated 
mainly on the pericope of the adulterous woman, which is placed 
in modern editions of the Greek NT between 7:52 and 8:12 (some- 
times relegated to the critical apparatus). There is, however, at least 
one other major textual problem in John which calls for special atten- 
tion.' The present article examines the text of John 3:13 in which the 
final clause, "who is in heaven" (6 cov ^v tw oupavw), is lacking in 
important Greek witnesses to the text of John. It is argued on the 
basis of both external and internal considerations that the words were 
original and later were deleted to avoid saying that Jesus was simul- 
taneously present in heaven. Hence, the disputed reading in John 3:13 
should be allowed to stand as an explicit statement of the omni- 
presence of the Son of Man, even as he walked on the earth. 

An exhaustive list of the more problematic textual variants in John is given by 
R. Schnackenburg, The Gospel According to St John, trans. K. Smyth (New York: 
Herder, 1968) 1. 182-87. The author specifies some 53 examples of textual variation "to 
give an impression of the need for textual criticism on John" (p. 182). The editorial 
committee of the UBS Greek NT has considered 207 places of variation in John, set- 
ting forth the reasons for including certain variants in the text and for relegating others 
to the apparatus. See B. M. Metzger, A Textual Commentary on the Greek New 
Testament (New York: United Bible Societies, 1971) 195-258. I am grateful to my 
colleague Harry Sturz for bringing this variant to my attention. I also acknowledge a 
special debt to past teachers Bo Reicke and Markus Barth for encouraging me to delve 
into the textual history of John. 



The text of John 3:13 circulated in the early church in two basic 
yet quite distinct forms, one which included the words 6 wv ev tw 
oupavcp, and another which lacked them. The former, which has been 
traditionally regarded as authentic, is represented by a diversified 
array of witnesses, primarily non-Alexandrine in character. The other 
form is attested chiefly by the Alexandrian group of manuscripts, in 
particular the uncials X and B, and by early papyrus codices of the 
Bodmer collection. This section examines in greater detail the external 
textual evidence for and against the reading 6 mv ev tw oCpavw. 

With the UBS Greek New Testament^ and Tischendorf's 8th Edi- 
tion^ serving as sources, evidence from the manuscripts, versions and 
Fathers has been accumulated and segregated under the leading text- 
types or groups of witnesses (Table 1). 

In assessing the evidence, the following observations can be made. 
First, considerations of external evidence clearly demonstrate that 
readings (3) and (4) are secondary. The former has only versional evi- 
dence in support, while the latter is supported only by two Greek 
manuscripts and the Sinaitic Syriac. Each of these readings is an 
apparent attempt, each in its own way, to alter reading (1) to avoid 
suggesting that Jesus was at once on earth and in heaven. 

Variant reading (2) is also supported by a relatively small number 
of witnesses. This minority, however, comprises those manuscripts 
considered to be of the highest quality (as noted by Westcott"). The 
Bodmer papyri p^^' ^^ attest the shorter reading, as do the fourth cen- 
tury uncials Sinaiticus (X) and Vaticanus (B) which are the earliest 
and best uncial representatives in John of the Alexandrian text-type. 
The testimony of the Coptic and Ethiopic translations, as well as that 
of Origen, add further early versional and patristic support to this 
important array of Greek manuscripts. Thus, if the traditional read- 
ing be accepted as original, some attempt must be made to explain 
how the words were omitted in such early and noteworthy witnesses 
to the text of the NT. 

On the other hand, it is also evident that the shorter reading is 
supported by a single text-type. In the Greek manuscript evidence, 
the omission is found only in the Alexandrian text-type. However, 
other Alexandrian witnesses, most notably several manuscripts of the 

^Kurt Aland and others, eds.. The Greek New Testament (3d ed.; New York: 
United Bible Societies, 1975) 329. 

^C. Tischendorf, Novum Testamentum Graece (8th ed.; Graz, Austria: Akademische 
Druck und Verlagsanstalt, 1965) 1. 765. 

■"B. F. Westcott, The Gospel According to St John (reprint; Grand Rapids: 
Eerdmans, 1975)65. 

black: JOHN 3: 13 












o S3 


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ti ^z 












^ .2 

S Q 

o x: 





li sj, 1 

III ill 

^ S c 1 w ^ •£ g 











Bohairic dialect, indicate that the words 6 wv ev x& oCpavco were also 
known early in Egypt. Moreover, concerning the patristic evidence, 
the testimony of Origen, an Alexandrian Father, indicates only that 
he was acquainted with the local text as preserved in Greek witnesses 
and versions. Otherwise, ecclesiastical tradition points to the general 
acceptance of the phrase as original. Summarizing, then, it appears 
that the strongest evidence in favor of the shorter reading is the fact 
that the words 6 (ov ev tco oupavw are lacking in the early Alexandrian 
manuscripts p^*^' ^^, X and B. 

The evidence for the inclusion of the words (reading 1) is as 
follows. The phrase is found in nearly all the uncial and minuscule 
manuscripts of the NT as well as in nearly every ancient version, 
including the Bohairic of lower Egypt. Support for the longer reading 
is also found in the great majority of the earliest patristic witnesses, 
including Origen^ himself, whose testimony at this point is divided 
equally between readings (1) and (2). Moreover, this reading is not 
limited to manuscripts of only one geographical area, as is its omis- 
sion. The reading was accepted as genuine over a wide geographic 
area, encompassing most of the then civilized ancient world: Rome 
and the West, Greece, Syria and Palestine, and even Alexandria, the 
literary capital of Egypt. 

These considerations are significant according to generally ac- 
cepted canons of textual criticism which apply to the external evi- 
dence of readings. Greenlee, for example, states that any reading 
supported by one text-type exclusively is suspect since "no ms. or 
text-type is perfectly trustworthy."^ Conversely, "a reading which is 
supported by good representatives of two or more text-types is gener- 
ally preferable to a reading supported by one text-type exclusively."^ 
This line of thinking favors the longer reading. The external evidence 
shows almost the entire ancient tradition supporting the disputed 
phrase (including the Old Latin [Itala], which establishes the date of 
the longer reading as at least the last quarter of the second century).* 
Also significant is the geographical distribution of the witnesses in 
support of the longer reading. Being from such a wide geographical 

"Non dixit qui fuit, sed qui est in caelo" (cited in Tischendorf, Novum Testa- 
mentum, 1. 765). 

J. H. Greenlee, Introduction to New Testament Textual Criticism (Grand Rapids: 
Eerdmans, 1972) 119. 


^Greenlee {Introduction, 46) dates the origin of the Itala "before the second cen- 
tury had passed," while B. M. Metzger (The Text of the New Testament [Oxford: 
Oxford University, 1968] 72) places the earliest Latin translations in North Africa 
within "the last quarter of the second century," and adds that "not long afterward 
translations were also made in Italy, Gaul, and elsewhere." 

black: JOHN 3: 13 53 

area, it is highly improbable that there is any genealogical relation- 
ship between them. The testimony of the Greek manuscripts, ancient 
versions, and Church Fathers thus forms, as it were, a strong three- 
cord strand which is not easily broken. If, therefore, the reading 
which is both early and supported by independent witnesses from a 
wide geographical area is more likely to be original, as Greenlee sug- 
gests, then clearly reading (1) should be preferred. 

The retreat at this point by many scholars, such as Morris,^ to 
the early uncials Sinaiticus and Vaticanus is understandable. The 
reading of K and B where they agree, and of B alone where they 
disagree, has long been accepted as original in places of variation. 
However, despite the acknowledged antiquity and worth of these great 
uncials, it has become increasingly common since the days of Westcott 
and Hort to question the reading of these witnesses when they stand 
alone. Greenlee writes: "The agreement of B X remains one of the 
most highly regarded witnesses to the New Testament text, but it is 
generally doubted that the text is as pure as W-H believed it to be."'° 
Metzger concurs: 

As a rule of thumb, the beginner may ordinarily follow the Alexandrian 
text except in the case of readings contrary to the criteria which are 
responsible for its being given preference in general. Such a procedure, 
however, must not be allowed to degenerate into merely looking for the 
reading which is supported by B and X (or even B alone, as Hort was 
accused of doing); in every instance a full and careful evaluation is to 
be made of all the variant readings in the light of both transcriptional 
and intrinsic probabilities." 

All of this does not mean, of course, that the Alexandrian witnesses 
have become less important in the actual practice of textual criticism. 
It does mean, however, that the readings of X and B, even when sup- 
ported by early papyri, cannot be accepted prima facie, for the idea of 
Hort's "neutral text" is untenable and no longer should be accepted. 
Critics of the text are thus in general agreement that, in the present 
state of research, no single group of manuscripts can be given an 
absolute preference.'^ 

'"The words 'who is in heaven' are absent from some of the most reliable manu- 
scripts and they should probably be omitted" (L. Morris, The Gospel According to 
John [NICNT; Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1971] 224). For a similar judgment see E. F. 
Harrison {John, The Gospel of Faith [Chicago: Moody, 1962] 26), who writes, "The 
last clause of verse 13 lacks sufficient manuscript authority to be accepted as part of 
the text." 

'"Greenlee, Introduction, 86. 

"Metzger, Text of the NT, 218. 

'^However, though it claims to be eclectic, there is evidence that the UBS Greek 
NT is a text dominated by S and B, as is argued by J. K. Elliott in "The United Bible 


Undoubtedly one's idea of the history of the text and one's 
principles of textual criticism will influence his decision in the present 
case. My own view, simply stated, is that an early reading supported 
by representatives from two or more text-types is preferable to a 
reading supported by witnesses of a single text-type, even a text-type 
regarded (properly or not) as the best ancient recension. It seems 
highly unlikely that such a localized reading could have a better claim 
to originality than a reading which is both early, widespread, and 
heavily attested. On the basis of external criteria, it therefore appears 
that the disputed words are original. 

Greenlee's summary of the Alexandrian text is worth quoting for 
those who still may have qualms about rejecting the reading of p^^' ^^, X 
and B: "As such, it is probably the best single text of the local texts; but 
like the others its readings cannot be accepted uncritically but must be 
submitted to the principles of criticism."'^ An important factor militat- 
ing against an uncritical acceptance of the early Alexandrian manu- 
scripts is that they show a capacity to support readings which — even 
in the eyes of the editors of the UBS Greek NT — are likely to be 
wrong. For example, in 1 Cor 2:10 the reading given in the text of the 
UBS Greek NT^ is 58, but p^^ B1739 Clement read in its place ydp, a 
conjunction which Metzger says "has the appearance of being an 
improvement introduced by the copyists."''* Another and more signifi- 
cant example is the reading XpiaxoC in 1 Cor 1:8, which is omitted in 
p"*^ B, as Metzger says, "either accidentally in copying ... or perhaps 
deliberately for aesthetic reasons."'^ The short reading of B 1216 in 
Matt 13:44 leads Metzger to speak of "the Alexandrian penchant for 
pruning unnecessary words. "'^ Even in the Gospel of John itself there 
are readings in Alexandrian manuscripts which the UBS Greek NT 
editors have attributed to scribal error. The omission of IriaoOc; by 
p^^ K B W in 5:17, of GeoC by p^^' ^^ B W in 5:44, and of ei 6 Geoc; 
e5o^do0r| £v am(b by p^^ X*B C* D L W in 13:22, as well as the 
substitution of 8?iiyna for |iiy|ia by X* B W in 19:39 are but four 

Societies' Textual Commentary," NovT 17 (1975) 131ff. Elsewhere Elliott speaks of "the 
reluctance of the editors to deviate too far from these hypnotic mss. K B" ("A Second 
Look at the United Bible Societies' Greek New Testament," BT 21 [1975] 328). If 
Elliott's conclusions are correct, one could almost speak of the text of X and B as a 
modern "Textus Receptus," the overthrow of which is as difficult today as it was 
during the period of the struggle for a critical text. 

'^Greenlee, Introduction, 86-87. 

'"Metzger, Textual Commentary, 546. 

''Ibid., 544. 

'*Ibid., 34. 

black: JOHN 3: 13 55 

examples.'^ The concurrence of these early witnesses behind doubtful 
readings raises questions about their integrity as witnesses to the 
original text. 

Summarizing, then, in this case it appears that, according to 
accepted canons of text-criticism, the reading most likely to be orig- 
inal on the basis of external criteria is the one which includes the 
words 6 wv ev tco oupavw. The omission, though early and supported 
by the chief representatives of the Alexandrian text, is less likely to be 
original due to the scarcity and geographical limitation of manuscript 
support (as well as the possibility that this text-type may not be as 
inherently pure as it was once thought to be). Therefore, there appears 
to be no conclusive reason based on external criteria for rejecting the 
strong textual and historical testimony in favor of the longer reading. 


In assessing the text of John 3:13, one must also take into con- 
sideration internal evidence. This involves two kinds of criteria: tran- 
scriptional and intrinsic probabilities. The former involves evaluating 
the kinds of mistakes or alterations a scribe may make as he copied a 
text while the latter considers what the author was more likely to 
have written. Under transcriptional probabilities, four canons are 
generally accepted: (1) the more difficult reading is to be preferred; 
(2) the shorter reading is to be preferred except where parablepsis 
may have occurred or where a "scribe may have omitted material 
which he deemed to be (i) superfluous, (ii) harsh, or (iii) contrary to 
pious belief, liturgical usage, or ascetical practice";'^ (3) the reading 
which is verbally dissident is to be preferred to one which is verbally 
concordant with a parallel passage; and (4) the reading which best 
accounts for the other variants is to be preferred. 

Prefer the More Difficult Reading 

Preference for the longer reading estabhshed on the basis of 
external evidence finds strong internal support in the first of these 

X* B in 10:18 (f|pev for ai'pei), and the text of p^^ S B in 20:31 (7tiaTEur|T8 for 
mateOoriTg). The evidence for 3:13 is much like that for 10:18, where Metzgcr {Textual 
Commentary, 231) writes, "a majority of the Committee judged that its external attesta- 
tion was too limited in extent, representing, as it does, only a single textual type (the 
Egyptian)." Elsewhere, I have argued along similar lines in relation to the text of 
Eph 1:1 ("The Pecularities of Ephesians and the Ephesian Address," GTJ 2 [1981] 

'^Metzger, Textual Commentary, xxvii. 


canons, since it obviously is the more difficult reading. Assuming that 
John 3:13 belongs to Jesus' narrative with Nicodemus,'^ the longer 
reading has Christ saying that he was at that moment present both in 
heaven and on earth. The awkwardness of this saying would explain 
the origin of readings (3) and (4), which undoubtedly were produced 
to make the longer reading less objectionable (it is much more diffi- 
cult to assert that Jesus "w in heaven" while speaking to Nicodemus 
than to say that he "was in heaven" or that he "is from heaven"). 
Thus Metzger, writing on behalf of the minority of the UBS Greek 
NT editorial committee, remarks, "If the shorter reading . . . were 
original, there is no discernible motive which would have prompted 
copyists to add the words 6 wv ev xcp oupavcp, resulting in a most 
difficult saying. "^° On the whole, therefore, preference should be given 
to reading (1) as the more difficult of the four variants. 

Prefer the Shorter Reading 

Because scribes were more prone to add words than to omit 
them, the shorter reading is generally to be preferred. This fact, 
coupled with the assumed quality of the external attestation, was no 
doubt decisive in the decision to relegate 6 cov ev tw oupavw to the 
apparatus in all three editions of the UBS Greek NT. However, it 
may be that the omission of these words falls under the recognized 
exceptions to this canon of textual-criticism. This canon states that 
the shorter reading is to be preferred unless the scribe either acci- 
dentally omitted material due to parablepsis, or else intentionally 
omitted material on stylistic, grammatical, liturgical or doctrinal 
grounds. Thus, one needs to take these other considerations into 
account in order to decide which reading should be considered 

On the one hand, it is difficult to see how the words 6 wv ev 
T(p oupavw could have been omitted accidentally. The well-known 
phenomena of homoioteleuton, homoioarcton and haplography do 

"That in 3: 13 we have the words of Jesus and not the meditations of the evangelist 
is argued persuasively by R. Brown, The Gospel According to John (I-XII) (AB; 
Garden City, New York: Doubleday, 1966) 149. 

^"Metzger, Textual Commentary, 203. The possibility exists, of course, that the 
disputed words are to be taken in an atemporal sense, resulting in the translation, "who 
was in heaven," as suggested by M. Zerwick (Biblical Greek [Rome: Pontifical Biblical 
Institute Press, 1963] 92, par 274; 129, par 372). This rendering, however, would not 
account for the objectionable nature of the reading which probably led to its modifica- 
tion or omission in the first place. Apparently early copyists understood the participle 
as referring to "real" or present time rather than a timeless quality, although the latter 
understanding may indeed be true in the case of Jesus. 

black: JOHN 3: 13 57 

not apply in this case,^' nor can the omission be explained on the 
basis of an error of the ear, memory or judgment. The possibility of 
an intentional omission, however, remains a viable option. Certain 
scribes may have found the expression either superfluous, too diffi- 
cult, or objectionable for doctrinal reasons. A change in the opposite 
direction would be possible but less probable, especially in view of the 
tendency to remove or tone down a reference to Jesus' deity as seen in 
readings (3) and (4). Despite Metzger's assertion that the longer read- 
ing may reflect "later Christological development,"^^ there are no 
discernible reasons why copyists would have introduced the words at 
this point in John's Gospel. Indeed, Metzger's Commentary shows 
that a minority of the committee agreed that the longer reading, 
"having been found objectionable or superfluous in the context, was 
modified either by omitting the participial clause, or by altering it."^^ 
In view of this possibility, the longer text deserves serious considera- 

Prefer the Verbally Dissident Reading 

Schnackenburg^^ considered the words 6 cov 8V tco oijpavcp to be 
a later gloss added on the model of 1:18, as did Hort^^ before him. 
However, the statement in 1:18 is neither directly parallel with 3:13 
nor does it belong to the same literary and historical context as the dis- 
course in John 13. John 1:18 refers to the time after the ascension of 
Jesus. There, as John looks back from his own period of history to 
the revelation of God which has already taken place, he states that 
the Father and the Son enjoy the most intimate communion. In 3:13, 
however, the words 6 cov ev iw oupavw are uttered by the earthly 
Jesus and express his omnipresence at the very time the historical 
revelation was being made. It therefore seems unnecessary to suppose 
that the disputed phrase is a comment made from the same stand- 
point as 1:18. 

^'Homoioteleuton is possible only with reading (4) which concludes with the words 
Sk toO oupavoO, a phrase found earlier in v 13, but this reading is clearly secondary, as 
shown above. 

^^Metzger, Textual Commentarv, 204. 


^''Recently J. M. Ross has shown the unreasonableness of simply following the 
Alexandrian uncial manuscripts or, when in doubt, automatically selecting the shorter 
reading. He would assign greater weight to transcriptional and intrinsic probabilities in 
judging between NT variants. See his article, "Some Unnoticed Points in the Text of 
the New Testament," NovT25 (1983) 59-72. 

''John, 1. 394. 

^'"The character of the attestation marks the addition as a Western gloss, sug- 
gested perhaps by i 18" (B. F. Westcott and F. J. A. Hort, The New Testament in the 
Original Greek [London: Macmillan and Co., 1896] 75). 


Prefer the Reading Which Best Accounts for the Others 

Had either reading (3) or reading (4) been original, there is no 
reason why scribes would have altered the text. If, however, the longer 
text is original, one can easily understand the other variants as 
attempts to modify or to remove completely a difficult expression. 
Readings (3) and (4) are most easily explained as modifications of 
reading (1) which includes the words 6 wv 8v xw oCpavip. The absence 
of the words in the Alexandrian witnesses would be due either to 
accidental omission (though this is improbable) or to their rejection 
because they were found objectionable for some reason. This is more 
likely than Schnackenburg's explanation that the longer reading is 
attributable to the work of a glossator. Therefore, the longer reading 
best accounts for the rise of the other readings. 

There remains now the matter of intrinsic probabilities of what 
the author was more likely to have written. In this regard one must 
take into account (1) a reading's harmony with the author's teaching 
elsewhere; and (2) a reading's harmony with the author's style and 

The Author's Theology 

Although readings (3) and (4) are consistent with Johannine 
theology (cf. John 1:1, 14), it is more difficult to determine if the 
expression 6 wv ev ito oupavw (which teaches the omnipresence 
of Jesus during his earthly ministry) is consistent. The absence of 
parallels to this clause is explained by varying theological emphases 
John stresses in different contexts, by the gaps in the writer's nar- 
rative, and by the uniqueness of this nocturnal dialogue with the 
Pharisee Nicodemus recorded in 3:1-21 (elsewhere Jesus is engaged 
only with "the Jews" or "the Pharisees"). Nevertheless, the theological 
theme discussed here makes an important contribution to the theology 
of the Fourth Gospel. The Johannine Jesus is not only the preexistent 
Word (1:1) and the post-resurrection exalted Christ (20:28), but also 
the Revealer and Savior who remained "with God" while present in 
the "flesh" (1:1, 14). The apparent anomaly of having God explain 
God (cf. 1:18) is reconciled in John's doctrine of the incarnate Logos. 
In the person of Jesus Christ, heaven has come to earth and earth has 
been linked with heaven. The Word which became flesh did not cease 
to be what he was before, for the flesh assumed by the Logos at the 
incarnation was the "tabernacle" (to use John's expression in 1:14) in 
which God was pleased to dwell with men." Thus the witness who 

"Cf. E. M. Sidebottom (The Christ of the Fourth Gospel [London: SPCK, 1961] 
124): "The Son of Man does not, for example, cease to be divine by 'descending'," and 

black: JOHN 3: 13 59 

apprehended the divinity of the eternal Logos in and in spite of the 
flesh could testify, "And we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only- 
begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth" (1:14). 

One could also point in this connection to 1:51, where the 
expression "Son of Man" is first used in John: "You shall see the 
heaven opened, and the angels of God ascending and descending 
upon the Son of Man." Commenting on this verse Wright says. 

This is a record, in pictorial and allegorical language, of the signal 
manifestations, to be witnessed by the disciples during the Ministry of 
Jesus, of the unique communion with God which he knew. The passage 
is expressive of that intercourse between heaven and earth which was 
manifest throughout the whole Ministry of Him who was truly man.^* 

In 3:13 John is giving expression, in a similarly dramatic way, to 
the consciousness of Jesus, who himself "ascends" and "descends. "^^ 
Jesus insists that he is the only one who can speak of heavenly realities 
because his association with heaven is much more profound than that 
of any other man. "Who has ascended to heaven and come down? 
Who has gathered the wind in his fists?" (Prov 30:4). The answer, of 
course, is this Jesus who, whether spoken of as the Christ, the Son of 
God or the Son of Man, came from "above," from God, where he 
preexisted as the Logos (1:1). The Son of Man is the only authentic 
revealer of God, since he alone has come down from above. These 
exalted claims of Jesus, that he is the preexistent Son, whom John 
has called the "Word," and that because of his Sonship he has author- 
ity to reveal what he has seen with the Father, show that Jesus is not 
only the revealer but the revelation itself. Salvation comes from the 
acceptance of him, the only-begotten Son of God, sent into the world 
because of God's love to save the world (3:16). John has recorded this 
"good news" so that people may come to believe in this revelation, 
confess Jesus as the Christ, and thus come to eternal life (20:31). 

In view of all this, it is difficult to understand Wright's assertion 
that the words 6 wv ^v x& oupavcp "express a more developed, or 

"The descent from 'above' to 'below' is not a simple passage from one sphere to the 
other, but the unification of the two." 

^*C. J. Wright, Jesus, The Revelation of God (Londop; Hodder and Stoughton, 
1950) 73. 

"Cf. P. Ricca (Die Eschatologie des Vierten Evangeliums [Zurich: Gotthelf, 1966] 
95): "Die Bedeutung von 1, 51 wird in 3, 13f. und 8, 28 naher bestimmt: Das 
Herabkommen des Menschensohnes ermoglicht es dem Menschen, mit ihm in den 
Himmel zu steigen, denn er ist der Weg, der die Erde mit dem Himmel verbindet" 
("The meaning of 1:51 is more closely defined in 3:13f and 8:28: the descent of the Son 
of Man enables man to rise with him into heaven, for he is the Way who binds earth 
with heaven"). 


more speculative, Christology than is found in the Gospel. "^° Every 
essential attribute of deity is predicated of Christ in this gospel which 
makes several distinct contributions to Christology/^ The greatest 
body of evidence to Christ's deity — the seven signs (orifieia) of his 
earthly ministry selected by John from among many others — is further 
supplemented by the Lord's own assertions (cf. 5:16-18; 10:30-39) 
and by apostolic testimony ascribing to the earthly Jesus the attributes 
of omniscience (1:48-50; 4:29; 16:30; 20:24-28; 21:17), omnipotence 
(5:19; 20:30-31) and omnipresence (1:48). As with the signs, these 
statements were designed to demonstrate that "Jesus is the Christ, the 
Son of God" (20:31). Even the Lord's reference to himself as 6 mbc, 
ToO dvOpwTiou ("the Son of Man") is an inescapable implication of 
deity (cf. Dan 7:13). Although this title is only used of Jesus in his 
human state, it in no way excludes the idea of John's use of "the Son 
of God," which speaks of Jesus' union with the Father before, during 
and after the incarnation. 

What Moloney has written of the Johannine Son of Man is 
apropos at this point of our discussion: "The Johannine Son of Man 
is the human Jesus, the incarnate Logos; he has come to reveal God 
with a unique and ultimate authority and in the acceptance or refusal 
of this revelation the world judges itself."^^ In other words, the role of 
the Son of Man in John can only be understood when one correctly 
understands his relationship with God. Because he has come from 
God and indeed is God, he can reveal him with ultimate authority. 
Thus Jesus, by designating himself as the Son of Man who is also in 
heaven, reveals that he is conscious of the divine glory and the unique 
authority which he has with the Father even while walking the earth 
in the base form of a servant. 

The Son of Man, then, was "with God" (1:1) and "in heaven" 
(3:13) while standing before his interlocutor, reveahng the ^Ttoupdvia 
("heavenly things") and speaking "of what he knows." Nicodemus, 
within limitations, is prepared to see Jesus as a Rabbi "from God," a 
prophet like the great men of Israel and a teacher par excellence, but he 
cannot or will not understand the message of salvation-condemnation 
brought by this revealer who has come into the world. The message 
involves ^noupdvia, and can be fully understood only by one who has 
seen it and knows it, and who has come from heaven to tell what he 
has seen and heard. As a representative of the Jewish authorities 
Nicodemus confessed to a belief in Jesus which was insufficient, and 
in spite of his professional knowledge of the OT remained incredulous 

'"bright, Jesus, 134. 

^'See W. R. Cook, The Theology of John (Chicago: Moody, 1979) 54-59. 

"F. J. Moloney, The Johannine Son of Man (Rome: LAS, 1978) 220. 

black: JOHN 3:13 61 

of the truth of the new birth. But what Nicodemus had failed to 
understand, John the Baptist had properly grasped — there is a birth 
av(D08v ("from above") because Jesus is 6 avwGev ^px6|j,evo(; ("the 
one who comes from above," cf. 3:31). This could only be understood 
through Jesus himself, in whose earthly existence heavenly things 
become visible and comprehensible." 

The Author's Style 

The issue here is not whether John could have written these 
words; an author must be granted the privilege of using rare forms on 
occasion as the subject matter requires. Yet a general knowledge of 
the characteristics of an author's style and vocabulary often will help 
determine whether a variant reading is in harmony with the rest of 
the author's writings. 

The picture of John's literary style is admittedly incomplete. 
There is nothing in it, however, which requires us to place the words 
6 6)v ^v Tw oupavw outside his own literary capabilities. The clause 
contains features which, taken at face value, seem faithfully to reflect 
the apostle's characteristic style, grammar, and vocabulary. A check 
of Moulton and Geden's Concordance^^ reveals that six of the eleven 
occurrences of 6 div with a prepositional phrase appear in the Fourth 

Matt 12:30 6 jif] wv \izx' ^lioC kot' ^|aoO tcxiv 

Luke 11:23 6 \xy\ &y hex' £^oC kut' t[iov tcxiv 

John 1:18 6 fl)v eig xov koXjtov toO nazpoq 

John 3:31 6 wv ^k xfjg yf\c, iK xfjg Yfjt; ^axiv 

John 6:46 ei i^fi 6 wv napa xoC 9eoC 

John 8:47 6 wv ^k xoO GeoO xct ^fifiaxa xoC 9eo0 Akouei 

John 12:17 6 ox^oc, 6 &v hex' auxoO 

John 18:37 nac, 6 &v &k xx\c, ct^-riGEiac; 

Rom 9:5 6 Xpiaxog x6 Kaxd adpKO 6 tov etc! ndvxwv 

2 Cor 1 1:31 6 cov EuXoyrixoc; eic, xovc, aiwvaq 

Eph 2:4 6 Se Beoc; nXovaioq cov ev eXeei 

"One cannot help but see Nicodemus, "a ruler of the Jews," as representing a 
Judaism which fails due to its incomplete faith, its unwillingness to go beyond the 
^Ttiyeia ("earthly things"), and its disregard for the message of rebirth from above in 
the Spirit (cf. H. Leroy, Rdtsel und Missverstdndnis: Ein Beit rag zur Formgeschichte 
des Johannesevangeliums [BBB 30; Bonn: Hanstein, 1968] 124-36). Because the Baptist 
has correctly understood the mystery of Jesus, he has become the model of one who is 
open to "heavenly things," as the evangelist points out in 3:31-36. 

'■"W. F. Moulton and A. S. Geden, A Concordance to the Greek Testament 
(Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, 1975) 279-81. 


The construction in Rom 9:5 and the six constructions in John 
are exactly parallel to the variant 6 wv ^v tw oupavcp in John 3:13. 
Thus, it appears that this usage is not only Johannine but almost 
exclusively so in the NT. This fact points to the appropriateness of a 
more detailed examination of this construction in John. 

The six occurrences in John are distributed fairly evenly over the 
gospel. Three of them refer directly to Jesus (1:18; 6:46; 8:47). A 
decisive element in the choice and formulation of this construction 
appears to be how useful and significant the texts were for John's 
Christology. This is clear from 1:18, which is a pronouncement of the 
evangelist. The metaphorical expression 6 cov eic, xbv K6X,7rov toO 
naxpoc, simply renders "with God" of 1:1 in another way. Thus, at 
the end of his prologue the author affirmed once more the relation- 
ship of the Son of God to the Father which never ceased during his 
earthly ministry. In so doing, John prepared the ground for his sub- 
sequent account of the revelational discourses of Jesus in which 
Christ's existence is said to be ^v t(5 oupavw (3:13), napd toO 08ou 
(6:46), and ^k toO 0eoO (8:47). Hence, the construction in 3:13 forms 
a link between the Logos-hymn and the discourses of Jesus presented 
in the Gospel. John 1:18 explains the eternal mode of existence of the 
divine Son of God (i.e., one of intimate fellowship with the Father), 
while 3:13, 6:46 and 8:47 explain his mode of existence as the incar- 
nate Son of Man who remains with the Father even after being sent 
by him. These four occurrences could, therefore, be based on the con- 
sistent theological conception of Jesus' heavenly origin (6:46; 8:47) 
and his constant communion with the Father (1:18) even while on 
earth (3:13). 

A different appraisal is called for in the three remaining texts. 
John 3:31 may be the words of the Baptist or the kerygmatic discourse 
of the evangelist on the preceding incident. But here again Jesus 
is pictured as the one who is "above all men" {tndvoi TidvTcov) 
because, as the heavenly witness and revealer, he "comes from above" 
(6 ctvcoBev ipxo^ievoc,). The expression "he who is from the earth" (6 
Giv tK Tf\c, yric,) means men in general, who are inferior to him and 
completely dependent upon his revelation. Since they are "earthly" 
(^K Tfjc; yfjc;) in origin, they are also earthly in nature, oriented in 
thought and language to earthly things (tot tniyeia), as was Nico- 
demus. By virtue of origin and nature, "he who is from above" is 
superior to them in principle, absolutely and unrestrictedly. But here 
it is not a matter of contrast but of degree. The "heavenly" one 
surpasses the "earthly," but was also sent by the Father as the salva- 
tion of the world which he loved (3:16). This "dualism" is far from 
being Gnostic in nature, for here the heavenly envoy comes to earth 
and gives the earth-born that which is necessary to become "children 

black: JOHN 3: 13 63 

of God" (1:12) and partakers of the heavenly world when they are 
"born from above" (3:3, 5). 

At first sight, there appears to be nothing significant about 12:17, 
which speaks of the crowd that was with Jesus (6 6x^O(; 6 fi)v ^lex' 
auToO) when he called Lazarus out of his grave. But the explanation 
given by Barrett allows an application of this text also to the ascending 
and descending Son of Man motif.^^ The crowd that greeted Jesus as 
6 ^px6|ievo(; (v 13) had been stirred by the raising of Lazarus openly 
to hail Jesus as the Messiah. For the Pharisees this meant that at best 
they must postpone their plans to kill Jesus until after the Passover 
(cf. Luke 19:47-48), or at worst it meant the complete failure of all 
their plans. Some of them felt the latter to be the case, and in a burst 
of deep despair cried out, "Behold, the world [6 k6g[ioc,] is gone after 
him" (12:19). Barrett sees in this Semitic idiom (6 K6a|iO(; meaning 
"everyone") an allusion to John 3:16-17, where it is stated that Jesus 
was sent into the world (6 Koanog) to save the world, including 
Gentiles (although one need not suppose that this motley crowd of 
enthusiasts included actual Gentiles). The Gospel of John presents 
the idea of the spiritual character of the Kingdom, although men 
think its advent will be earthly and political in nature. Not only was 
Nicodemus and the crowd blind to this spiritural truth, but even the 
apostles themselves had not yet come to see the real significance of 
Jesus' pronouncement that the Kingdom of God is within men's 
hearts. Could not the "crowd" that thronged about Jesus be a sym- 
bolic representation of this unbelieving, uncomprehending attitude? ^^ 

The final occurrence of the phrase in John appears in 18:37, 
where Jesus informs Pilate, "Every one who is of the truth [nac, 6 (ov 
EK Tfjc; d?iri08ia(;] hears my voice," a statement which prepares the 
way for Pilate's infamous inquiry, "What is truth?" (v 38). Theolog- 
ically, the saying is important. Because Jesus himself is the sole means 
of access to God who is the source of all truth and life, he is in 
himself the truth and the life for men. As the opening hymn of the 
gospel sees in the bodily presence of the Logos among men the escha- 
tological fulfillment of God's presence among men (1:14),^^ so here 
Jesus is pictured as the eternal reality which is beyond and above the 
phenomena of the world. Life, truth and access are characteristic 

''See C. K. Barrett, The Gospel According to St John (London: SPCK, 1960) 349- 

^"Ibid., 350. 

"in 1:14 Jesus is said to be "full of grace and truth," where "truth" ((i^f)9eia) prob- 
ably is to be taken in an ontological sense to mean "divine reality" (cf. Schnackenburg, 
John, 1. 273). 


themes of John's gospel, and are marvelously linked together in the 
Lord's statement in 14:6: "I am the way, the truth, and the life; no one 
comes to the Father except by me." However, only those who are "of 
the truth" can see and follow and live. Truth stood before Pilate and 
yet he did not know it. Like Nicodemus, Pilate for all his interest in 
Jesus' case is not of the truth; he is of the world. Asking the question, 
"Quid est Veritas?", he is ignorant that "Est vir qui adest," as the 
famous anagram puts it.^* 

When the similarities between 3:31, 12:17 and 18:37 are taken into 
account, the notion of a characteristic pattern based on the participial 
form of 8i|ai becomes less speculative. Each of the passages provides a 
supplement for the others, but all together are also apparently delib- 
erate references on the part of the evangelist to the "heavenly-earthly" 
motif drawing from his latent interest in Christology. The multitudes 
which follow Jesus are, like Nicodemus and Pilate, of "earthly" origin, 
unresponsive to "he who is from above." Perhaps the expression ^k 
ifjc; yfjg in 3:31 is not as negative as ^k toO Koaiaou; but the distance 
is great enough. The earthly realm is populated by men who reveal an 
earthly way of thinking, who seek out Jesus but fall short of faith in 
him, who openly hail Jesus as a great man but choose darkness in 
preference to the light. The reflections of 3:31 and 18:37 on this 
enigmatic rejection of "the truth" are occasioned, at least in part, by 
Jesus' personal effort to seek to explain how, in spite of all God's 
efforts to save and in spite of the clear and unquestionable revelation 
of the Son, men could still close their hearts to the light. Their 
inexplicable "hatred" (3:20; 15:24) rises up from the abyss of a heart 
darkened by sin and corrupted by pride. Faith, however, overcomes 
all objections and recognizes the divine origin of Jesus in spite of his 
earthly lowliness. The one who throws away his doubts and proclaims 
his faith in Jesus as the Messiah is permitted to witness the glory of 
the Son of God. The conduct of Nathaniel of Cana is but one 
illustration of a heart ripe for receiving Jesus as Messiah (1:45-51). 
Such a man, in contrast to Nicodemus, the crowd and Pilate, is "a 
true Israelite, a man with nothing false in him" (1:47), a man "who is 
ofthe truth" (18:37). 

It would therefore seem a fair conclusion, based on the above 
considerations, that the author of the Fourth Gospel was not un- 
acquainted with both the theological content and the grammatical 
form of the expression 6 wv ^v xw oupavw. Indeed, he is given over to 
the repetition of such a phrase. On the whole there does not appear to 
be any theological or linguistic evidence why John could not have 

Cited in A. T. Robertson, The Divinity of Christ in the Gospel of John (reprint; 
Grand Rapids: Baker, 1976) 141. 

black: JOHN 3: 13 65 

written these words. Since the longer reading is intelHgible as it stands, 
it is preferable to conclude that it is an integral part of the Gospel. 


Although much can be said for certain arguments in favor of the 
shorter reading, in my judgment the inclusion of the disputed words 
is the best solution since it is supported by significant external and 
internal evidence and retains a great deal of John's original use of the 
term "Son of Man." Given the strength and diversity of the external 
attestation, the improbability of an accidental omission, and the 
intrinsic probability favoring the inclusion of the phrase, 1 suggest 
that the longer text which includes the words 6 cov ^v tw oupavw 
deserves to be taken more seriously by the editors of the UBS Greek 
NT.^^ The cumulative effect of the data can hardly be ignored; and 
the individual arguments present a strong prima facie reason for 
examining the matter again. 

This witness to Christ's deity, on this reading of the evidence, is 
thus not a mere theologoumenon handed down by the church, but a 
witness deriving from Jesus himself, from his own teaching about his 
person, and verified in the testimony of John the apostle. His record 
is that the Son of Man, who has come from heaven, speaks truthfully 
about heavenly realities as a man may speak about his own home,"*" 
for the incarnation did not — indeed could not — denude heaven of the 
Son's presence. It is in this context that Augustine, who sounds very 
Johannine when writing of the Son of Man, could inquire of his 

Ecce hie erat et in caelo erat: hie erat in earne, in eaelo erat divinitate, 
natus de matre, non reeendens a Patre — Miraris quia et hie erat et in 

Perhaps the editors themselves are heading in this direction. The omission of 6 
&v tv Tw oupav© received an "A" rating in the UBS Greek NT', signifying that this 
reading is "virtually certain" (Metzger, Textual Commentary, xxviii). In subsequent 
editions the omission is given a "C" rating, meaning that "there is a considerable degree 
of doubt whether the text or the apparatus contains the superior reading" (Ibid.). 

""it will hardly do, however, to render the disputed clause "whose home is in 
heaven," as is found in the NEB. This is especially surprising in a translation which 
claims to be "a faithful rendering of the best available Greek text" {The New English 
Bible New Testament [Oxford: University Press, 1961] v). Such a rendering can hardly 
be in keeping with the import of Christ's statement. 

"'"Behold, he was here and he was in heaven: he was here in his flesh, he was in 
heaven in his divinity, born of a mother, never leaving the Father— Why do you marvel 
that he was both here and in heaven?" (cited in E. W. Hengstenberg, A Commentary 
on the Gospel of St John [reprint; Minneapolis: Klock & Klock, 1980], 1. 178). Calvin 
also writes, "But since, for the sake of the unity of person in Christ, it is frequent and 


common to transfer the property of the one nature to the other, we need not look for 
another solution. Hence Christ, who is in heaven, put on our flesh that, by stretching 
out a brotherly hand to us. He might raise us to heaven along with Himself" (J. Calvin, 
The Gospel According to St John (1-10), trans. T. H. L. Parker [Grand Rapids: 
Eerdmans, 1959] 72). 

Grace Theological Journal 6. 1 (1985) 67- 


James D. Price 

Extensive evidence from ancient Near Eastern texts and from 
normal Hebrew syntax supports the view that U^XT is a toponym in 
Ezek 38:2, 3; 39:1. The syntactical support involves a detailed examina- 
tion of instances where some scholars posit a break in a construct 
chain. These hypothetical breaks are not convincing for several rea- 
sons. Therefore, U?X1 in Ezek 38:2, 3; 39:1 should be translated as a 
proper noun ("the prince of Rosh, Meshech, and Tubal" fNKJVJ), 
not an adjective ("the chief prince of Meshech and Tubal"fKJ\J). 


AMONG Bible expositors, controversy continues over the translation 
of the phrase bin) ^lyo U^Xl X'U^3 in Ezek 38:2, 3 and 39:1 — 
should the translation be "the chief prince of Meshech and Tubal" 
(AV), or "the prince of Rosh, Meshech, and Tubal" (NASB)! The 
controversy centers around the Hebrew word ^iil; is the word a place 
name (Rosh) or an adjective (chief)? 

There are two principle arguments denying that ^iil is a place 
name: a philological argument and a grammatical argument. The 
philological argument states that the primary meaning of U'KI is 
"head" as a noun, and "chief" as an adjective,' and that the word is 
unknown as a place name in the Bible, Josephus, and other ancient 
literature. J. Simons, a noted authority on ancient geography, wrote: 

That in one or more of these texts a people of that name whose 
home was in Asia Minor, is indeed mentioned, is not entirely disproved 
but it is at any rate rendered improbable by the fact that the same 
name can be discerned only very doubtfully in other (Assyrian) docu- 


'J. Simons, The Geographical and Topographical Texts of the Old Testament 
(Leiden: E.J. Brill, 1959)81. 


The grammatical argument states that the absence of a conjunc- 
tion between U^Xl and "^1^0 precludes IL'X"! from being a noun. William 
Gesenius stated the applicable grammatical principle: "Contrary to 
English, which in lengthy enumerations uses and to connect only the 
last member of the series, in Hebrew polysyndeton is customary."^ 
This means that Hebrew uses a conjunction between every word in a 
series. On the basis of this grammatical rule Simons concluded, "The 
reading '^IL'O (not ']'Q^fy\) in both texts argues against a tripartite enu- 
meration of peoples or countries."" 

These arguments have been convincing to many scholars and 
have resulted in the retention of the A V reading in a number of 
modern versions {RSV, NIV, NAB). Ralph H. Alexander represented 
the typical response when he wrote, "The author does not consider 
the word ros [sic\^ to be a proper name in light of the syntax of the 
.Masoretic text and the usage of the term throughout the Old Testa- 
ment and extra-biblical literature."^ 

But on the other hand, many authorities accept U^NI as a top- 
onym, and regard the grammatical problem to be of no consequence. 
Among these are C. F. Keil,^ C. L. Feinberg,^ D. J. Wiseman,^ T. G. 
Pinches,^ and standard lexicons. '° Also, several modern versions 
translate the phrase "prince of Rosh, Meshech, and Tubal" {ASV, 
NASB, NEB, NKJV, Harkavy); and some even recognize the land of 
Rosh in a reconstruction of the difficult Masoretic text of Isa 66:19, 
"Meshech, Rosh, Tubal, and Javan" (NASB, JB, NEB). Thus, the 
arguments against this translation may not be as convincing as some 

Those who support the view that IT'Xn is a toponym observe that 
this use of ros is not entirely unknown in the ancient literature. 
Pinches pointed out that the LXX translators must have known the 
place, because they transliterated the word as a place name. He also 

'GKC, 154a. 

"Simons, Geographical and Topographical Texts. 81. 

'Ralph H. Alexander, "A Fresh Look at Ezekiel 38 and 39," JETS 17 (1974) 161, 
n. 2. 

^C. F. Keil, Biblical Commentary on the Prophecies of Ezekiel. trans. James 
Martin (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, n.d.) 2:158-59. 

'Charles L. Feinberg, The Prophecy of Ezekiel (Chicago: Moody, 1969) 219-20. 

*'Donald J. Wiseman, "Rosh," The New Bible Dictionary (ed. J. Douglas; Grand 
Rapids: Eerdmans, 1962) 1107. 

'T. G. Pinches, "Rosh," International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (ed. James 
Orr; Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1955)4:2623. 

'°BDB, 912; William Gesenius, Hebrew and English Lexicon of the Old Testament. 
trans. Edward Robinson (Boston: Crocker and Brewster, 1849) 955; William L. Holla- 
day, A Concise Hebrew and Aramaic Lexicon of the Old Testament (Grand Rapids: 
Eerdmans, 1971)329. 

price: rosh: an ancient land known to ezekiel 69 

noted references to the land of Rashi (= Rosh) in the Annals of 
Sargon." Opponents of the view discount these references as insig- 

Also, those who support the place-name view point to a much 
more serious grammatical problem involved with regarding ^X"l as an 
adjective — the adjective intervenes between the construct noun K''U'3 
(prince of) and its genitive nomen rectum blT)} "^pTi (Meshech and 
Tubal). This is a syntactic anomaly. Opponents of the view dismiss 
the problem by observing that broken construct chains do occur in 
Biblical Hebrew. Simons discounted the problem by stating, "The 
translation of Eze. xxxviii 2.3 and xxxix 1 by 'Gog, chief prince of 
Meshech and Tubal' is grammatically difficult but cannot be said to 
be impossible."'"^ But is is very doubtful that this problem can be 
brushed off so lightly and that the ancient references to the land of 
Rosh can be ignored. 

This article demonstrates that Rosh was a well-known place in 
antiquity as evidenced by numerous and varied references in the 
ancient literature. The article also demonstrates that in Ezek 38:2, 3; 
39:1 the absence of the conjunction with "^pri is inconsequential and it 
is syntactically improbable that li'KT is an adjective. A logical explana- 
tion is offered for the origin of the interpretation of U^XI as an adjec- 
tive. The conclusion is drawn that the best translation of Ezek 38:2, 3; 
39:1 is "prince of Rosh, Meshech, and Tubal." 

philological arguments 

Rosh was a Well- Known Place 

Rosh has not been recognized among the place names of antiquity 
because scholars have failed to take into account the well known 
phonetic shifts that occur within the Semitic languages. When differ- 
ences in pronunciation are taken into account, I found the name 
Rosh (or its phonetic equivalents) twenty times in five different 
ancient sources without an exhaustive search. 

Variant Pronunciations of Rosh 

The word that means "head" as a noun and "chief" as an adjec- 
tive is common to most of the Semitic languages^, but its pronuncia- 
tion varies. Due to the phonetic phenomenon known as the Canaanite 
shift'^ the word is pronounced ros in Hebrew and the Canaanite 

"Pinches, "Rosh," 4:2623. 

''Simons, Geographical and Topographical Texts, 81. 

'^Wilham S. LaSor, Handbook of Biblical Hebrew (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 
1979) 2:38. The Semitic /a/ shifted to /6/ in the Canaanite dialects. 


dialects, '"* but in the other Semitic languages it is pronounced as rasu 
(Arabic),'^ A-^i (Aramaic),'^ risjresu (Ugaritic),'^ and resu/rasu (Akka- 
dian).'* The final vowel (w) is the nominative case ending; alternative 
final vowels supply the genitive (rasijresi) and the accusative {rasa I 
resa). Wherever the Semitic word for "head/ chief" was used as a 
place name, it is expected that it would follow the pronunciation and 
orthography of the language in which it was used. That was true for 
most place names that were derived from the meaningful Semitic 

Rosh was a Name 

The word ^K"l {ros or its phonetic equivalent rasjres) was not 
used exclusively as a common noun or adjective in the Semitic 
languages. The word also was used as the name of persons and 
places, and in compound names of persons and places. The use of 
ros as the name of a specific land is demonstrated in the next sec- 
tion. Rosh was the name of a son of Benjamin (Gen 46:21), and 
Resh was the name of an Akkadian temple. '^ Also, the word is found 
in compound place names such as Resh-eni,^° and in modern Arabic 
place names such as Ras Shamra, Ras Naqura, Ras el-Ain, etc. 
Additionally, the word is found in many compound personal names 
of antiquity, such as Rashi-ili,*^' Resh-Adad king of Apishal,^^ Resh- 

"BDB, 910. 

"ibid., 910; the Semitic /s/ shifted to /s/ in Arabic. 

'^Ibid., 1112. 

"Cyrus H. Gordon, Ugaritic Textbook (Rome: Pontifical Biblical Institute, 1965) 

"*Theo Bauer, Akkadische Lesestucke (Rome: Pontifical Biblical Institute, 1953) 

""Resh Temple" is found 9 times in Akkadian ritual texts according to A NET, 
338, 342, 344, 345. 

^°David D. Luckenbill, "Bavian Inscription of Sennacherib," Historical Records of 
Assyria, vol. 2 in Ancient Records of Assyria and Babylon (reprint; New York: Green- 
wood, 1968)2:149. 

''Mentioned three times by David B. Weisberg, Texts from the Time of Nebuchad- 
nezzar, vol. 17 in the Yale Oriental Series: Babylonian Texts (New Haven: Yale 
University, 1980) 17:63. 

""The Sargon Chronicle," A NET, 266. 

■'Stephen D. Simmons, Early Old Babylonian Documents, vol. 14 in the Yale 
Oriental Series: Babylonian Texts (New Haven: Yale University, 1978) 73. 

"''Samuel I. Feigin, Legal and Administrative Texts of the Reign of Samsu-Iluna, 
vol. 12 in the Yale Oriental Series: Babylonian Texts (New Haven: Yale University, 
1979) 50. 

''Ibid., 50. 

price: rosh: an ancient land known to ezekiel 71 

of Sulalum,^^ Resh-Irra,^^ Resh-Marduk son of Ipqu-Amurru,^^ Resh- 
Nabium,^^ Resh-Shamash,^° Resh-Shubula son of Ibn-Adad,^' Resh- 
Sin," and Resh-Zababa.'^ 

Rosh Mentioned Twenty Times as a Place Name 

The place name Rosh (or its phonetic equivalents in the respec- 
tive languages) was found three times in the LXX, ten times in 
Sargon's inscriptions, once on Assurbanipal's cylinder, once in Sen- 
nacherib's annals, and five times on Ugaritic tablets — a total of twenty 
references in five different sources. The following sections list the 

Rosh in the LXX. The LXX translates Ezek 38:2, 3; 39:1 as 
apxovTtt Pcog, Moaox Kai Qo^zk. The Greek obviously transliterated 
the Hebrew pronunciation. 

Rosh in Sargon's Inscriptions. Various inscriptions of Sargon 
mention the land of Rashu. The inscriptions noted in this study are as 

(1) The Annals of Sargon (year 12, 1 1. 228-316): 

Til-Hamba, Dunni-Shamshu, Bube, Hamanu, strong cities in the 
land of Rashi, became frightened at the onset of my mighty battle- 
(array) and entered Bit-lmbi.'" 

(2) Sargon's Display Inscription: 

In the might and power of the great gods, my lords, ... I cut 
down all my foes ... the lands of Ellipi and Rashi which are on the 
Elamite border on the banks of the Tigris. ^^ 

(3) Sargon's Display Inscription of Salon XIV: 

In the might of Assur, Nabu and Mardu, the great gods, my lords, 
who sent forth my weapons, I cut down all my enemies . . . the lands of 

Simmons, Early Old Babylonian Documents, 73. 
"ibid., 73. 

'^Feigin, Legal and Administrative Texts, 50. 
"Simmons, Early Old Babylonian Documents, 73. 

"'a popular name, listed 3 times by Feigin, Legal and Administrative Texts. 50, 
and 3 times by Simmons, Early Old Babylonian Documents. 73. 
^'Feigin, Legal and Administrative Texts, 50. 
"Simmons, Early Old Babylonian Documents, 73. 
-'Mbid., 73. 

'"Luckenbill, Historical Records of Assyria, 17. 
''ibid., 26. 


Rashi and Ellipi which are on the Elamite frontier, the Arameans who 
dwell on the banks of the Tigris. . . Z* 

Rashu is also mentioned as a place name in the following additional 
inscriptions of Sargon: (a) Sargon's Bull Inscription," (b) Sargon's 
Pavement Inscription (mentioned 5 times), ^^ and (c) Sargon's Cylinder 

Rosh in Assurbanipal's Texts. The land of Rashu is mentioned 
in Assurbanipal's Texts on the Rassam cylinder, the eighth campaign 
against Elam (col. IV, 11. 63ff.): 

In my eighth campaign, at the command of Assur and Ishtar, I 
mustered my troops, (and) made straight for Ummanaldasi, king of 
Elam, BTt-Imbi, which I had captured in my former campaign, — this 
time I captured (together with) the land of Rashi, (and) the city of 
Manamu with its (surrounding) district. "*" 

Rosh in Sennacherib's Annals. The land of Reshu is mentioned 
in the annals of Sennacherib: 

First year of Nergalushezib: . . . One year and 6 months was 
Nergalushezib king in Babylon. In the month of Tashritu, the 26th 
day, his people made a rebellion against Hallashu, king of Elan, . . . 
and killed him . . . Afterward Sennacherib marched down to Elam 
and destroyed . . . (the country) from the land of Rishi as far as 

[Rishi is the equivalent of Reshu.) 

Rosh in Ugaritic Literature. The Ugaritic literature mentions 
people of the land of Reshu in the following texts: 

(Text 1337)'' 

(1) mit.ilLmhsrm (1) One-hundred (and) three deficit 

(2) '^l nsk. kuglm (2) against the metalsmith of Kttglm. 

(3) arb^m.ili mhsrm (3) Forty-three deficit 

(4) mtf'l.risy (4) (against) Motbaal the Reshite 

''Ibid., 41. 

"ibid., 45-47; the Akkadian text spells the name ra-a-si. See D. G. Lyon, Keil- 
schriftlexte Sargon's Konig von Assyirien (reprint; Leipzig: Zentralantiquariat Der 
Deutschen Demokratischen Republik, 1977) 14, 42, 93. 

^'^Luckenbili, Historical Records of Assyria. 48-55. 

"ibid., 60-62; Lyon, Keilschrifttexte. 2. 

'"'Luckenbill, Historical Records of Assyria. 307-8. 

"/1/V£r, 302. 

""Gordon, Ugaritic Textbook. 240. 

price: rosh: an ancient land known to ezekiel 


(9) hms.mnt.lh 
(10) '^Imtn.risy 

(Text 2078r 

(1) hsm.qnum 

(2) bn ilrs 

(3) etc. 

(Text 2027) also a list of Reshites. 
(Text 2079) also a list of Reshites. 

(9) five minas. Three 
(10) against Motan the Reshite. 

(1) The Reshites: Qanum 

(2) the son of Ilrash 

(3) etc. 


(Text 2095)'' 

(1) ll.mat.Um.khd smn 

(2) l.abrm.altj'y 

(3) mit.dlm.khd.smn 

(4) l.abrm msrm 

(5) mitm.arb^ mJmn.kbd 

(6) l.sbrdnm 


(8) etc. 

(1) Six hundred sixty kubdas of oil 

(2) for Abram the Cypriote. 

(3) One hundred thirty kubdas of oil 

(4) for Abram of Egypt. 

(5) Two hundred forty-eight kubdas 

(6) for the men of Sardis. 

(7) One hundred for Ben Azmot the 


(8) etc. 

These references to Rosh (Rashu/Reshu) demonstrate that it was 
a well-known land in antiquity on the banks of the Tigris River, 
bordering on Elam and Ellipi. 

George C. Cameron, the noted historian of early Iran, identified 
the land as "the Rashi tribe of Arameans, well known to the Assy- 
rians from Sargon onward and located in the mountains east of Der, 
where was its capital. Bit Imbi.""*^ Other of its prominent cities were 
Hamanu, Bube, Bit Bunakki, and Bit Arrabi.'*'^ 

The cumulative effect of the preceding is that Rosh was a well 
known place. The next section demonstrates that the word II'XI is 
most probably not an adjective in Ezek 38:2, 3 and 39:1. 

Translations of the Ugaritic materials are my own. 
""Gordon, Ugaritic Textbook, 22*. 
"'ibid., 10*. 
"'Ibid., 23*. 
"'Ibid., 25*. 

"^George C. Cameron, History of Early Iran (Chicago: University of Chicago, 

"'Ibid.. 200. 



Contrary to the objection of Simons, the absence of a conjunc- 
tion between ti^XI and "^U'Q does not make it impossible for U7N1 to be 
a place name. On the other hand, the fact that the word ii''\p'l (prince) 
is a construct noun does make it extremely doubtful that li'NT is an 
adjective (chief). 

Missing Conjunction is Inconsequential 

Although it is customary for Hebrew to use conjunctions between 
all the words in a series, it is not mandatory. Many exceptions to the 
rule are found. After giving the previously noted rule of polysyndeton 
in Hebrew, Gesenius cited the exception, "Sometimes, however, only 
the last two words are joined. "^° Examples are found in Gen 5:32 
(np^-riKl Dn"nx Dty-nx ni iVvi / 'And Noah begot Shem, Ham, and 
Japheth'), Gen 11:26 (nn HKl nlnrnx D13S;-nx iVl"! / 'And he begot 
Abram, Nahor, and Haran'), and Gen 13:2 (DHTDT f]D33 nn3732 / 'in 
livestock, in silver, and in gold'). This exception corresponds exactly 
to the syntax of Ezek 38:2, 3; 39:1; consequently ^iil can be a noun 
in a series without violating normal conventions of Hebrew grammar. 

Hebrew Syntax Expects li^KT to Be a Name 

If U^XT is regarded as a name, then the syntax of the passage is in 
keeping with the normal conventions of Hebrew grammar. In this 
case, the construct noun K"*!!?? ('prince of) is followed by a compound 
nomen rectum consisting of a series of three names (Rosh, Meshech, 
and Tubal). Although Hebrew avoids lengthy series of coordinate 
genitives depending on one nomen regens, numerous examples are 
found in the Bible of short series of closely related words. '*' Examples 
are found in Gen 14:19 ("Possessor of heaven and earth"). Gen 28:5 
("the mother of Jacob and Esau"), Exod 3:16 ("the God of Abraham, 
of Isaac, and of Jacob")," Num 20:5 ("a place of grain or figs or 
vines or pomegranates"), 1 Sam 23:7 ("a town of gates and bars"), Ps 
8:2 ("the mouth of babes and infants"), and Isa 22:5 ("a day of 
trouble and treading down and perplexity"). 

These examples demonstrate that regarding II'K") as a name con- 
forms with known conventions of biblical Hebrew. However, the next 
section demonstrates that regarding 1^X1 as an adjective does not so 

'°GKC, 154a; note other examples at Gen 10:1, 14:1, 30:39; Jer 2:36; Ps 45:9. 

"GKC, 128a. 

"Note the absence of the conjunction between "Abraham" and "Isaac." 

price: rosh: an ancient land known to ezekiel 75 

Syntax Rejects l^N") as an Adjective 

If IL'K") is regarded as an adjective, a syntactical anomaly re- 
sults. One of the fundamental principles of Hebrew grammar is not 
observed — a word normally does not intervene between a construct 
noun and its nomen rectum. Joshua Blau stated the basic principle of 
this convention of nonintervention, "Nothing must intervene between 
the construct and the nomen rectum. Accordingly, even an adjective 
attribute of the construct has to come after the nomen rectum."^^ 

As this convention applies to the words b^T)] ^U^Q U^NI K^\i;: of 
Ezek 38:2, 3; 39:1, it indicates that it is quite unlikely for the adjective 
attribute ^iil (chief) of the construct noun X"'t?3 (prince) to intervene 
between the construct and the nomen rectum VDni ']p?p (Meshech and 
Tubal). Therefore, unless the principle of nonintervention permits 
exceptions of this type, it is extremely improbable that ^X"l is an 
adjective. Rather, it is extremely probable that it is a name in accord 
with normal syntax. The following sections demonstrate that there 
are no undisputed exceptions to the principle of nonintervention. 

Hebrew Syntax Uses Other Constructions for Adjectives 

When Hebrew expresses an adjective attribute for a construct 
noun, it regularly uses other syntactic constructions. There are four 
possible syntactic structures which could be used to express the 
thought "chief prince of Meshech and Tubal." 

(1) The absolute adjective may follow the nomen rectum, as 
Blau's statement suggested. This construction is used most often. 
Examples are found in 2 Sam 13:18 (n'?inDri ^^QH-nl]? / 'the king's 
virgin daughters') and Isa 55:3 (D"'3?pK3n TIT "'"Tpn / 'the sure mercies 
of David'). When the statement becomes ambiguous or too complex, 
alternate constructions are used. The use of this construction in Ezek 
38:2 would produce the ambiguous phrase ll^Xin bnr\] T|ii70 k'U?3 where 
U7Knn may modify bin or X"'U?3. Therefore, the construction would be 
inappropriate here. 

(2) The construct adjective may be placed before the noun phrase 
it modifies. In this case the Hebrew would read Vdht '^'pri K"'i^5 U^KI. 
Some examples of this are ]V:i n? nVins / 'virgin daughter of Zion' 
(Isa 37:22), D'X''U73n 'U^XI / 'chief princes' (1 Chr 7:40), U^Tp'm 'U^xn / 
'chief spices' (Cant 4:14), and nlDXn ^piil / 'chief fathers' (1 Chr 

Joshua Blau, A Grammar of Biblical Hebrew (Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz, 1976) 
96; see also August Miiller, Hebrew Syntax (Glasgow: James Maclehouse & Sons, 


(3) The absolute adjective may precede the noun phrase it modi- 
fies. In this case the Hebrew would read '73ni "^^Tp H^'^p: WHl(Tl). 
Examples of this combination are found in Ezek 21:25 (i'tl'l VVn rtnx 
Vniu^' X"'\r3 'You, O profane wicked prince of Israel'), Isa 23:12 
(pl^V ri? nVina ni7U7y?pn / 'You oppressed virgin daughter of Zidon'), 
and Isa 52:2 (p'^ n? U^^u; / 'captive daughter of Zion'). 

(4) When a complex nomen regens prevents the attachment of a 
genitive nomen rectum by means of a construct form, the genitive 
may be attached by means of the preposition V/" This occurs when 
the nomen regens is a proper name, or has unmoveable modifiers. 
Judg 3:28 (DKl^V ^Tn ni-iSV!? / 'the Jordan fords of Moab') and 
Hag 1:1 (^'V'l^V D'HU' r\W'2 / 'in the second year of Darius') have 
examples of this construction. Although no example was found using 
an attributive adjective, it seems probable that the construction X"'U'3n 
Vdht '^ly??'? U'Kiri would accurately express "chief prince of Meshech 
and Tubal." 

These examples demonstrate that Hebrew has regular syntactic 
conventions for accommodating an adjective attribute of a construct 
noun without violating the principle of nonintervention. Ezekiel used 
these conventions in statements similar to 38:2, 3; 39:1 (see, e.g., Ezek 
21:25). It is highly unlikely that Ezekiel would violate such a widely 
used principle of Hebrew grammar. The next section demonstrates 
that alleged broken construct chains do not correspond to the syntax 
at Ezek 38:2, 3; 39: 1 and do not justify regarding li^XI as an adjective. 

Ajective Modifying a Construct Does Not Apply 

Some argue that, although it is unusual, there are certain cases 
where attributive adjectives follow construct nouns, such as ^^'^7^ pb — 
"chief priest" (2 Kgs 25:18, Jer 52:24, etc.). However, the Ezekiel prob- 
lem involves the possibility of an adjective intervening between a 
construct noun and its nomen rectum, not merely following the 
construct. Consequently such cases have no bearing on the Ezekiel 

Broken Construct Chains Do Not Apply 

Based on the evidences given by Gesenius,^^ and supplemented 
by M. Dahood^^ and D. N. Freedman, 

■'GKC, 129. 

''GKC, 130a-f. 

■^M. Dahood, Psalms {^^\ Garden City: Doubleday, 1970) 3:81-83. 

"David Noel Freedman, "The Broken Construct Chain," Bib 53 (1972) 534-36. 

price: rosh: an ancient land known to ezekiel 77 

Hebrew grammar admits exceptions to the principle of noninterven- 
tion called broken construct chains. Evidence was given by these 
scholars citing several examples from the Hebrew Bible where a con- 
struct noun is not followed immediately by a genitive nomen rectum. 
These alleged broken construct chains are considered by some as 
justification for regarding U'XT as an adjective that legitimately breaks 
the construct chain in Ezek 38:2. 

Constructs are Created by Rhythm. The existence of alleged 
broken construct chains in biblical Hebrew should not be accepted 
hastily as justification for a broken chain in Ezek 38:2, 3, and 39:1. 
Most syntactic constructions classified by Dahood and Freedman as 
broken construct chains were previously noted by Gesenius, but were 
not regarded by him as broken chains. The problem is that not every 
construct form is a nomen regens that anticipates a genitive nomen 
rectum. A construct form comes about when the language places two 
words in such close rhythmical relationship that they receive only one 
major accent. The first word of the pair loses its accent and its form 
becomes a construct; the second word receives the major accent and 
retains its standard (absolute) form. Gesenius said. 

It is sufficiently evident . . . that the construct state is not strictly 
to be regarded as a syntactical and logical phenomenon, but rather as 
simply phonetic and rhythmical, depending on the circumstances of the 

The genitive relationship between nouns regularly produces this 
condition; the nomen regens has the construct form and the nomen 
rectum has the absolute form. This construction is commonly known 
as a construct chain. Because it is so common in Hebrew, it may 
mistakenly be regarded as the only use of the construct form. Actually, 
since the construct state is phonetic and rhythmical, not strictly syn- 
tactical, Hebrew frequently exhibits other cases of the construct state 
not associated with the genitive relationship between nouns. Gesenius 
noted several such constructions: "The construct state ... is frequently 
employed in rapid narrative as a connective form, even apart from 
the genitive relation."''^ The following constructions were listed by 
Gesenius. (1) The construct state frequently governs prepositional 
phrases, particularly in prophecy and poetry, especially when the con- 
struct word is a participle. (2) The construct state frequently governs 
a relative pronoun clause. (3) The construct state sometimes governs 
an independent clause. This construction may be understood as a case 

'GKC, 89a. 
"GKC, 130a-c. 


where the relative pronoun is ehded. (4) The construct state is some- 
times followed by waw conjunctive where the connection is strong. 
Muller^° noted a few cases where a construct participle precedes an 
accusative. An example is 'nk ''T\Wip / 'those who serve me' (Jer 
33:22). None of the above should be mistaken for a construct chain: 
no genitive relationships were indicated. They represent the purely 
phonetic and rhythmical cases. 

The same phonetic and rhythmical conditions occasionally pro- 
duce construct-like forms in other parts of speech, such as particles, 
adverbs, prepositions, pronouns and verbs. When such words are 
closely related to the following words by maqqeph, the accent is 
drawn away from the word, resulting in a construct-hke reduction of 
the vowel. Examples of particles are W versus ~'0'>,, nx versus "DN, and 
jH versus "]n. An example of an adverb is fS versus XTTrfS which is 
found in Gen 44:10; Josh 2:21; and 1 Sam 25:25. Examples of pre- 
positions are DX versus TIK (with) and 1^2 (Cant 4: 1) versus p'?nn"lV3 
(Josh 2:15). An example of a pronoun is no versus "no (what?). Several 
examples of verbs are found: TlDn versus X^'Tlsn ('please separate 
yourself; Gen 13:9), uan versus KJ-uan ('please look'; Gen 15:5), ^V 
versus Dli^'Diy ('dwell there'; Gen 35:1), "^V versus xr"^"? ('please go'; 
Gen 37:14), Dhr versus DU'-DnD"' ('he wrote there'; Josh 8:32), "71^?? 
versus 133-Vu^n ('rule over us'; Judg 8:22), Vil'O^ versus D3-Vu^?3' ('he 
will rule over them'; Isa 19:4, Joel 2:17), nbv^ versus D^rinv;; ('the 
indignation is past'; Isa 26:20), li^npnn versus yU'W^^T^T] ('a festival is 
kept'; Isa 30:29), ^"70' versus ^'70-^'7??' ('a king will reign'; Isa 32:1), 
DOT versus O'p-DOn' ('he treads clay'; Isa 41:25), "^bnx versus i3"^onx 
('I uphold him'; Isa 42:1), piSK versus D''0"p;^N; ('I will pour water'; Isa 
44:3), nsn versus piyi;-n2n ('to speak oppression'; Isa 59:13), and ibip-' 
versus llV'noi^"' ('he keeps for us'; Jer 5:24). 

All these examples demonstrate the role that rhythm plays in 
creating construct and construct-like forms. But none of these are 
equivalent to true construct chains governed by the principle of non- 

True Construct Chains Involve a Genitive 

The true construct chain, particularly as it relates to the problem 
in Ezekiel 38, is limited to the genitive relationship between nouns. It 
is in this particular case that the principle of nonintervention applies, 
and it is this particular case that must be tested for exceptions, not 
whether a construct form may be succeeded by something other than 
an absolute nomen rectum. 

'Miiller, Hebrew Syntax, 53. 

price: rosh: an ancient land known to ezekiel 79 

There are several commonly known modifications of the principle 
of nonintervention that must not be regarded as violations. 

(1) A construct may follow another construct when there is a 
series of genitives.^' This forms a construct chain of more than two 
links, the last of which is an absolute. The principle of noninterven- 
tion then applies to the entire series. 

(2) The definite article may precede the absolute nonien rectum. 
Since it is a prepositive, it is regarded as part of the nomen rectum. 

(3) The locative He may follow the first construct as a post- 
positive case marker.^' It is regarded as part of the nomen regens. 

(4) Although it is not common, the construct may receive a pro- 
noun suffix. ^"^ Usually the pronoun is attached to the nomen rectum 
even though it modifies the construct;^" but where sense or style 
requires, the construct may receive the suffix. Since it is a suffix, it 
must be regarded as part of the nomen regens not as an intervening 

(5) Although it is not common, a negative may precede the 
nomen rectum. The negative is usually connected to the nomen rectum 
by a maqqeph, making it the equivalent of another construct, or a 
part of the nomen rectum. The negative must precede the word it 
negates and, like another construct, it is a legitimate modification to 
the principle of nonintervention. Examples of this construction are 
found in Isa 31:8 (U^'X-Xl'? Din / 'a sword not of man'), Isa 31:8 
(DlX-XiV Din / 'a sword not of mankind'), 2 Sam 23:4 (niDy-xV li^S / 
'a morning of no clouds'), and Isa 14:6 (mo ''hV? HDQ / 'a stroke of 

None of these modifications of the principle of nonintervention 
corresponds to the grammar of Ezek 38:2, 3; 39:1. None accounts for 
an attributive adjective intervening between a construct noun and its 
genitive nomen rectum. 

True Construct Chains are Seldom if Ever Broken 

Now the question to be answered is this: have any clear examples 
been found of a departure from the principle of nonintervention? If 
so, are the exceptions sufficient to justify considering "^l^Q WtT^ X't'] 
'?Dn'l to be a broken construct chain? The Ezekiel case would consist 
of an adjective attribute of the nomen regens interposed between the 
nomen regens and the nomen rectum. 

"GKC, 128a. 

"GKC, 90c. 

"'GKC, 128d. 

''"M tiller, Hebrew Syntax, 54. 


In general the syntax of biblical Hebrew is structurally consis- 
tent; there are relatively few structural discontinuities. Where the 
syntax exhibits discontinuity, it is for emphasis, clarification, the 
avoidance of ambiguity, or due to an author's style. Occasionally a 
discontinuity is created by ellipsis. But legitimate discontinuities are 
purposeful and meaningful, not accidental and enigmatic. 

If there is proof that the principle of nonintervention may not 
always be followed (as some believe to be true in Ezek 38:2), the 
proof must consist of clear, unambiguous examples from biblical 
Hebrew. The examples cannot be created by speculative emendation; 
they must have interventions similar to Ezek 38:2; and they cannot be 
examples of the admissible modifications of the principle previously 
mentioned. It should be expected that an example would exhibit a 
case where the discontinuity provides clarification, emphasis, the 
avoidance of ambiguity, or evidence of stylistic purpose. It is not 
expected that the discontinuity should be explained as a grammatical 
blunder that contributes to confusion. 

Numerous examples of possible broken construct chains have 
been listed by Gesenius, Dahood, and Freedman. Yet none of them 
qualify as an unambiguous precedent that proves that true construct 
chains may be broken. 

Gesenius' Broken Construct Chains 

Because Gesenius felt so strongly about the principle of non- 
intervention, he was very reluctant to recognize any possible excep- 
tion. He said: 

As the fundamental rules are the necessary consequence not merely 
of logical but more especially of rhythmical relations, ... we must feel 
the more hesitation in admitting examples in which genitives are sup- 
posed to be loosely attached to forms other than the construct state. ^^ 

Others have been more willing to accept broken construct chains, 
but Gesenius' reluctance should serve as a warning against hastily 
discovering supposed discontinuities in Hebrew syntax. Although he 
did not regard these passages in Ezekiel as broken construct chains, 
he did discuss certain problems related to the principle of noninter- 

Intervening Pronoun Suffix. Gesenius listed several examples 
of a pronoun suffix intervening between a construct and its nomen 

GKC, 128b. 
'GKC, 130a-f. 

price: rosh: an ancient land known to ezekiel 81 

rectum. He tried to explain away the noted cases as textual corrup- 
tions or by emendations. Actually, according to previous discussion, 
such pronoun suffixes are to be regarded as part of the nomen regens 
and not a violation of the principle of nonintervention. The use of a 
pronoun suffix with the nomen regens is uncommon, but required at 
times to avoid ambiguity. 

Special Case for the Construct of Vb. Gesenius^^ recorded a 
special problem with the word "73 (also noted in BDB). Three times its 
construct seems to have a word interposed between it and its genitive, 
a structure which BDB marks as very anomalous: 

2 Sam 1:9 "•3 ''pD} llyV? ""S 

Job 27:3 "-3 "•n?pip3 TivVs ""S 

Hos 14:3 pv Xtyn-"73 

Gesenius suggests that "73 must be regarded as adverbial in these cases 
in the sense of "wholly." That is a good suggestion; however, the 
possibility remains that they may be broken construct chains. In any 
case, Vb is a quantifier, not a noun, and as such it has unique rules of 
syntax that vary somewhat from those of nouns. It is doubtful that 
this special case can be used to justify an intervening adjective in 

Intervening Adjectives. Gesenius listed several other examples 
of possible broken construct chains. ^^ He listed Isa 28:1 as a possible 
case of an intervening adjective. The text reads ]^^ 'Ql'7n W^fiU^ K"'J 
'the rich valley of those overcome with wine' (RSV). It is understood 
by some that D"'3?pu^ is an adjective attribute of the nomen regens K""?! 
intervening between it and ''?pn'7n. This seems to be the way it was 
understood by KJV, ASV, RSV, and NASB. However, D^zm is not 
an adjective but a noun;^^ and it is not in grammatical concord with 
K''J as expected for an adjective. The form may be the abstract plural 
with the meaning "fatness," "richness," in which case "the valley of 
richness" is a proper way of expressing "rich valley." Thus, it is 
proper to understand "the valley of the richness of those overcome 
with wine" as the equivalent of "the rich valley of those. . . ." How- 
ever, to express this equivalent construction would require W^r^p to be 
in the construct state (and thus not violate the principle of noninter- 

"GKC, 128e. 
"'GKC, 128c. 
''*BDB, 1032. 


Because □"'301^ is not construct, and because of the disjunctive 
accent separating the two halves of the expression, many translators 
regard the halves as not syntactically related {NIV, NAB, TEV, 
NKJV). This seems to be the better choice since it follows conven- 
tional grammar. Although it is possible to regard the example as a 
broken chain, the grammar and accents are against it. Thus, it cannot 
be used as an unambiguous precedent. 

Gesenius also listed Isa 32:13 as a possible case of an intervening 
adjective. The text reads nrVv nnj? U^iU^D ^m Vs / 'all the joyous 
houses of the jubilant city.' It is possible to regard '^W'n as an adjec- 
tive attribute of 'na interposed between it and its nomen rectum nnp. 
But, as in the previous example, wSmJ'D is a noun meaning "exulta- 
tion, "'° and a disjunctive accent separates the halves of the expres- 
sion. Nearly all translators understand the halves to be syntactically 
unrelated, and to have an elided words between them (KJV, RSV, 
ASV, NASB, NIV, TEV, NKJV), or to be appositives (NAB). It 
seems to be wholly rejected as a broken construct chain. 

Gesenius also listed Isa 28:16 as a possible case of an intervening 
adjective. The text reads 1D1Q n'lj?'' nJD / 'a costly cornerstone of a 
foundation.' It is possible to regard nip"" as an adjective attribute of 
nJD interposed between it and its nomen rectum 1D^?2. Although 
Gesenius asserted that nij?'' is a construct noun not an adjective,^' it is 
classified as an adjective in his lexicon, in BDB and others. Yet it is 
unusual for an attributive adjective to be in the construct state. The 
text is problematical and cannot serve as an unambiguous precedent. 

Gesenius also listed Ezek 6: 11 as a possible case of an intervening 
adjective. The text reads '7X1U?' n"-? nlVI nlDVin '7D / 'all the evil 
abominations of the house of Israel.' It is possible to regard n1i7n as 
an adjective attribute of nl317ln interposed between it and its nomen 
rectum biilW"] n*"?. Although Gesenius asserted that nil?"! must be a 
construct noun (evils) not an adjective, the form could be either an 
adjective or a construct noun. However, since the construct noun 
follows normal grammar and makes good sense, Gesenius should be 
given the benefit of the doubt. Since the key word nlyi is ambiguous, 
this example cannot serve as an unambiguous precedent. 

In summary, Gesenius' examples are problematical and ambigu- 
ous. None can serve as proof that true construct chains may be broken 
in biblical Hebrew. 

™BDB, 965. 
"GKC, 130f. n. 4. 

price: rosh: an ancient land known to ezekiel 83 

Dahood's Broken Construct Chains 

Dahood listed several possible examples of broken construct 
chains in addition to those listed by Gesenius.^^ 

Intervening prepositions. Dahood listed several examples of a 
construct chain broken by a preposition. He has mistakenly identified 
a construct governing a prepositional phrase as a construct chain. In 
each case the relationship of the construct with the absolute is defined 
by the preposition, not by the genitive. The meaning would be incom- 
plete without the preposition. The reason for the construct form is 
phonetic and rhythmical, not syntactical and logical. 

In addition, 3 of the 5 examples are ambiguous — the forms are 
not clearly constructs; they may properly be absolutes (Pss 9:10; 10:1; 
92:13). In the remaining two examples, Dahood revocalized the Maso- 
retic text to create the example (Pss 74:12; 84:7). The Masoretic text 
of Ps 84:7 does have a construct before a preposition, but it comes 
under the above comment. 

Intervening pronoun suffix. Dahood listed 17 examples of a 
construct chain broken by a pronoun suffix. In six of the 17 examples, 
Dahood revocalized the Masoretic text to create the case (Pss 16:8; 
18:18; 35:16; 88:16; 102:24-25; 140:10). In Ps 102:24-25 he made the 
chain bridge the end of a verse, and in Ps 140:10 he made it bridge an 
athnach — obvious departures from the Masoretic punctuation. 

In three other cases his examples are construct participles govern- 
ing an accusative pronoun suffix and an adverb: Ps 35:19 ("those who 
are my enemies wrongfully"), Ps 35:19 ("those who hate me without 
cause"), and Ps 38:20 ("those who hate me wrongfully"). These are 
not examples of a construct governing a genitive nomen rectum. The 
construct forms originated from rhythm and phoentics, not neces- 
sarily because of grammar. 

In six other cases the construct has a genitive pronoun suffix, 
and the second word of the phrase is properly identified as an adverb 
not an absolute noun. Construct nouns do not govern adverbs. The 
noun takes the construct form because of the pronoun suffix. The 
examples are not broken construct chains: 

Ps 38:20 "My enemies are lively" 

Ps 48:15 "This God is our God forever and ever' 

Ps 61:5 "I will abide in your tabernacle forever" 

Ps 66:7 "He rules by his power forever" 

Ps 71:6 "My praise shall be continually of you" 

Ps 105:4 "Seek his face forever" 

"Dahood, Psalms, 3:381-83. 


In one other case his example is actually a proper name, "Mel- 
chizedek" (Ps 110:4). 

In all the above cases A V, NASB, NKJV, and NIV do not agree 
with Dahood, but view them according to more conventional gram- 
matical theory. The NIV regards the second word of Ps 38:20 as an 
attributive adjective. 

In only one case is there a possible broken construct chain: nnx 
TypriQ / 'You are my strong refuge' (Ps 71:7). This example comes 
under the permissible variations of the principle of nonintervention, 
which is not properly a violation. The pronoun cannot be attached to 
the nomen rectum without changing the sense. The construct state of 
the nomen regens has been carefully preserved in the Masoretic text 
by the absence of a principle accent, and by the maqqeph, even 
though there is a pronoun suffix. 

Intervening emphatic 'D. Dahood listed six examples of con- 
struct chains allegedly broken by an emphatic ''D. None of the exam- 
ples were recognized by the Masoretes as the emphatic ""S. In each 
case Dahood emended the Masoretic presentation of the text to create 
the example — always by adding a space between consonants and, in 
some cases, by changing the vowels. All of the alleged examples are 
properly identified as pronoun suffixes of direct address followed by 
a vocative, not a genitive. None are unambiguous examples of broken 
construct chains. 

Intervening enclitic mem. Dahood listed 23 examples of con- 
struct chains with intervening enclitic mem. However all of these 
examples involved revocalizing the Masoretic text to create the ex- 
amples. Such revocalization is not strong evidence to demonstrate 
that an enclitic mem actually breaks the construct chain in biblical 

Intervening vocative. Dahood listed one example of a construct 
chain with an intervening vocative, Ps 145:7, which reads plU'DT IDT / 
'the record, O Master, of your goodness'. DT is regarded as the 
intervening vocative. However, Dahood emended the Masoretic mark- 
ing by omitting the maqqeph between 21 and ^DIU, and by ignoring 
the lack of an accent on D"l, both of which identify 31 as a construct 
form. As a construct noun, D"] is a member of an unbroken construct 
chain that is grammatically and semantically correct. The phrase is 
literally translated "the memory of the greatness of Your goodness," 
or "the memory of Your great goodness" (NKJV). Dahood's revo- 
calization does not convincingly demonstrate that vocatives actually 
break construct chains in Biblical Hebrew. 

In summary, Dahood did not list one example of an unambigu- 
ous broken construct chain; all his examples involved revocalizations. 

price: rosh: an ancient land known to ezekiel 85 

ambiguous forms, or construct forms originating because of phonetics 
and rhythm rather than from a grammatical genitive relationship. 
Not one involves an intervening adjective and not one qualifies as a 
precedent for regarding U^XI as an adjective in Ezek 38:2, 3; 39:1. 
Furthermore, Dahood did not list these Ezekiel passages as examples 
of broken construct chains. 

Freedman's Broken Construct Chains 

David Noel Freedman attempted to add more examples of broken 
construct chains to those listed by Dahood and Gesenius." 

Intervening enclitic mem. Freedman listed several additional 
examples of an intervening enclitic mem. All involved revocalizing 
the Masoretic text; none convincingly demonstrates that an enclitic 
mem actually breaks a construct chain in Biblical Hebrew. 

Intervening clause. Freedman proposed that there is a clause 
breaking a construct chain in Isa 10:5 which reads DT2 XTn"ni3!21 
''PV!- In this rather difficult construction, he proposed that the clause 
D"1^3 XTH / 'he is in their hand' breaks the construct chain . . . nUQ 
"•pVT / 'the staff of ... my fury'. In doing so he emended the absolute 
noun riDQ to its construct form HDQ and emended the word DT3 to 
D''7;;3 ('in my hand') with an enclitic mem. His translation is "the staff 
of my fury is he in my hand." His emendations created the broken 
construct chain. The Hebrew is difficult, but it can be understood 
without emending the Masoretic text, the KJV has "and the staff in 
their hand is my indignation," the NKJV has "and the staff in whose 
hand is My indignation," and the NASB has "and the staff in whose 
hands is My indignation." All these make tolerable sense following 
the Masoretic vocalization. Freedman's speculative revocalization does 
not provide strong evidence to demonstrate that Isa 10:5 is an instance 
where a clause really breaks a construct chain. 

Intervening pronoun suffix. Freedman listed Hab 3:8 as an 
example of an intervening pronoun suffix: r\VW'', "?l''nb3no / 'your 
chariots of salvation.' This is a case that comes under the permissible 
variations of the principle of nonintervention previously mentioned. 
In this case the pronoun cannot be attached to>"salvation" without 
creating ambiguity. 

Intervening sign of the direct object. Freedman listed Hab 3:13b 
as an example of the sign of the direct object breaking a construct 
chain. In the phrase ^n"'U'Q nx V^^b / 'for salvation with Your 

'■'Freedman, "The Broken Construct Chain," 534-36. 


Anointed,' Freedman proposed that the construct chain is . . . Vp''^ 
^n"'U'p . 'the salvation of . . . your anointed' in parallel with the pre- 
ceding line "for the salvation of your people." The HK would then 
break the construct chain. However the form of the word 17\i';' is 
ambiguous, either absolute or construct, and the word nx may be 
either the sign of the direct object or the preposition "with." The 
translation, following a more conventional grammar, would be "for 
salvation with Thy Anointed" (NKJV). The absolute noun governing 
a prepositional phrase makes sense. Though the line lacks poetic 
parallelism, such progressive structure is not uncommon. Freedman's 
ambiguous speculation does not convincingly demonstrate that the 
sign of the direct object really breaks a construct chain in Biblical 

Intervening adverb. Freedman listed Hab 3: 1 3c as an example 
of an adverb breaking a construct chain. In the clause n"*??? IL'X"! nVHO 
y^yi / 'You struck the head from the house of the wicked,' Freedman 
proposed that the construct chain is VU^I . . . II'S"! / 'the head of the 
. . . wicked one' and that the word n"'2?p should be emended to n^2?p 
(inward), so that the clause is translated "You crushed the head of the 
wicked one inwards." But U'KI is an ambiguous form, either absolute 
or construct, and the revocalization is speculation based on poetic 
parallelism. The Masoretic pointing of the text makes sense. This 
revocalization does not convincingly demonstrate that an adverbial 
phrase really breaks construct chains in Biblical Hebrew. 

He also listed Ezek 39: 1 1 as an example of an intervening adverb. 
The text reads VxiU?''? "iDj? Dti^'Dlpo / 'a place there of graves in 
Israel.' He proposed that the construct chain is "iDj? . . . Dipp / 'a 
place of . . . burial' with the adverb DU' ('there') intervening. The 
translation would be "a place of burial there in Israel." However, HDj? 
has the concrete meaning "grave, sepulchre, burial place" ^'* rather 
than the abstract sense of "burial" which is rendered by the Hebrew 
rrilDp. Regarding IDj? as a genitive results in an awkward, unnatural 
sense ("a place of a grave there"). The last two words, '7Xn\r'2 IDp, 
function more naturally as an appositive ("a place there, a burial 
place in Israel"). The construct form Dipp is explained by the phone- 
tics created by the close rhythmical relationship between it and the 
following adverb DU'. Nevertheless, the example remains a possible 
broken construct chain; but, because it makes sense in the more 
conventional view (i.e., as an appositive), it remains ambiguous and 
does not provide a precedent for demonstrating that an adverb really 
breaks a construct chain in Biblical Hebrew. 


price: rosh: an ancient land known to ezekiel 87 

Intervening verb. Freedman listed Hos 14:3 as an example of a 
verb breaking a construct chain. This example was previously noted 
by Gesenius,'^^ and was discussed in a previous section. 

He also listed Hos 6:9 as an example which reads rtODli^ ^U^-\^ Tj.T / 
'they murder on the way to Shechem'. He proposed that the con- 
struct chain is nODiy . . . "^"1.1, and that the verb intervenes. There are 
two reasons why this is ambiguous: (1) the form of "Til is ambiguous, 
being either absolute or construct; and (2) the word nODlL' has the 
locative he and is the equivalent of DDIl'V- Thus the translation is "the 
way to Shechem," and is not to be confused with "the way of 
Shechem." Because the example is ambiguous, it does not provide 
clear precedent. 

He also listed Hos 8:2 as an example which reads ""nVx ^'p'!^V ""V 
^^"W^. V'^liyi"' / 'Israel will cry to Me, "My God, we know You." ' He 
proposed that the word 'nVK be revocalized to "'n'7X to produce the 
broken chain '7K"l^' . . . "'n'PK / 'the God of . . . Israel' with the verb 
intervening. The translation would be "O God of Israel, we know 
you." This again involves revocalization of the Masoretic text. Freed- 
man seems to exaggerate the change in number (from "my" to "we"), 
a common phenomenon in poetry. This instance does not provide 
strong evidence for demonstrating that a verb really breaks a con- 
struct chain in biblical Hebrew. 

In summary, Freedman did not list one example of an unam- 
biguous broken construct chain; all his examples involved unneces- 
sary revocalization, ambiguous forms, or construct forms originating 
because of phonetics and rhythm rather than from a strictly gram- 
matical genitive relationship. None involved an intervening adjective, 
nor do any qualify as a precedent for regarding U'X") as an adjective in 
Ezek 38:2, 3 and 39:1. Furthermore, Freedman did not list these 
passages in Ezekiel as examples of broken construct chains. 

No Proof Found for Broken Construct Chains 

None of the examples furnished by Gesenius, Dahood, or Freed- 
man are unambiguous broken construct chains; all the examples 
involve unnecessary revocalization, ambiguous forms, or construct 
forms originating because of phonetics and rhythm rather than from 
a grammatical genitive relationship. All the possible cases of interven- 
ing attributive adjectives are problematical. Not one example qualifies 
as an unambiguous precedent for regarding U'KI as an adjective in 
Ezek 38:2, 3; 39:1. Furthermore, none of the three scholars listed 

'GKC, I28c. 


these Ezekiel passages as examples of a broken construct chain. Con- 
sequently, it must be concluded that the existence of broken construct 
chains is speculative apart from the previously mentioned normal 
modifications of the principle of nonintervention. Alleged broken 
construct chains provide no support for breaking the principle of 
nonintervention in Ezekiel. 


The origin of the translation "chief prince of Meshech and Tubal" 
is traced to the Latin Vulgate. The early translators of the EngUsh 
Bible were quite dependent on the Latin Version for help in trans- 
lating difficult passages. They evidently followed Jerome in Ezek 38:2, 
3; 39:1. 

Some have supposed that the Aramaic Targum may have been 
the source for interpreting U^XT as an adjective. The Targum reads 
VdhI -^^Tp TV^l Dl, where 31 is the equivalent of Hebrew H^'ip: and U'n 
(= II'Kn) is the equivalent of Hebrew U^xn. But Aramaic has the same 
syntactic conventions for construct chains as Hebrew, so the same 
arguments that favor li'X"! as a name in Hebrew favor ^Hl as a name 
in Aramaic. Therefore, the Aramaic does not support regarding U^KI 
as an adjective, although those who do not take into account the 
difference in pronunciation may erroneously think so (as Aquila and 
Jerome may have thought). 

Evidently by the second century a.d. the knowledge of the ancient 
land of Rosh had diminished. And because the Hebrew word U^XT 
was in such common use as "head" or "chief," Aquila was influenced 
to interpret U^SI as an adjective, contrary to the LXX and nor- 
mal grammatical conventions. Jerome followed the precedent set by 
Aquila, and so diminished the knowledge of ancient Rosh even further 
by removing the name from the Latin Bible. 

By the sixteenth century a.d. ancient Rosh was completely un- 
known in the West, so the early English translators of the Bible were 
influenced by the Latin Vulgate to violate normal Hebrew grammar 
in their translation of Ezekiel 38-39. Once the precedent was set in 
English, it was perpetuated in all subsequent English Versions until 
this century when some modern versions have taken exception. This 
ancient erroneous precedent should not be perpetuated. 


It has been demonstrated that Rosh was a well-known place in 
antiquity as evidenced by numerous and varied references in the 
ancient literature. It has also been demonstrated that an adjective 
intervening between a construct noun and its nomen rectum is highly 

price: rosh: an ancient land known to ezekiel 89 

improbable, there being no unambiguous example of such in the 
Hebrew Bible. Furthermore, it has been demonstrated that regarding 
U'XT as a name is in harmony with normal Hebrew grammar and 
syntax. It is concluded that U^XI cannot be an adjective in Ezekiel 
38-39, but must be a name. Therefore, the only appropriate transla- 
tion of the phrase in Ezek 38:2, 3, and 39:1 is "prince of Rosh, 
Meshech, and Tubal." 

Grace Theological Journal 6. 1 (1985) 91-112 






Daniel B. Wallace 

A survey of the grammatical terminology, identification, and 
semantics of the object-complement construction in the Greek NT 
demonstrates that the treatment of this construction in the major 
grammars is inadequate. A rather extensive listing of NT examples 
of this construction supports the thesis that the object-complement 
construction is semantically equivalent to the subject-predicate nom- 
inative construction. Thus, any principles which apply to subject- 
predicate nominative constructions (e.g., "Colwell's Rule") are equally 
applicable to object-complement constructions. 


Although some would insist that grammar is one of those elemen- 
tary things which is better left behind as we press on to maturity, 
there are still a few die-hards who feel that not all has been said on 
the topic. Lars Rydbeck, for example, recently asked the question, 
"What happened to New Testament Greek grammar after Albert 
Debrunner?"' His answer is that it "has come almost to a standstill," 
one of the reasons being that "There is a prevalent but false assump- 
tion that everything in NT Greek scholarship has been done already."^ 
Rydbeck goes on to suggest that one major area in NT grammar 
which has yet to be resolved is the nature of NT Greek. ^ This, indeed. 

'The title of a paper presented to the Fifth International Congress on Biblical 
Studies (Oxford: September, 1973), published in NTS 21 (1974-75) 424-27. 
'Ibid.. 424. 
'Ibid., 425. 


is a critical issue; but there are others. Among them is the relation of 
structure to semantics. This is a problem area because most grammars 
are satisfied with presenting the structural phenomena of the NT in a 
descriptive manner (i.e., a mere tagging of structures as belonging to 
certain syntactical categories), while hardly raising the question of the 
differences in the fields of meaning that 'synonymous' structures can 
possess."* One construction which can be profitably put through the 
structure-semantics grid is that of the object-complement double 


Not all are agreed on which terms to use when describing this 
grammatical phenomenon. Thus it is appropriate to begin by defining 

Double Accusative 

The nomenclature "double accusative" is customarily used in 
grammars to refer to two different kinds of constructions:' (1) a 
person-thing double accusative (in which a verb takes two direct 
objects in the accusative, one being the person affected, the other 
being the thing effected);^ and (2) an object-complement double 

Some specific areas of inquiry with reference to this problem are: the genitive of 
possession vs. the dative of possession; the simple infinitive vs. the genitive articular 
infinitive (or eiq/Tipoq plus the accusative articular infinitive) to express purpose; the 
overlap in the use of simple cases and prepositions plus cases (e.g., simple dative vs. tv 
plus the dative); the anarthrous generic noun vs. the articular generic noun; the various 
structures used to express result, causality, etc. To be sure, some of these topics are 
discussed in the grammars, but as of yet, grammars by and large make no attempt to 
be systematic in dealing with the differences in the fields of meaning that 'synonymous' 
structures can have. 

'There are other double accusative constructions as well, but which occur so 
infrequently as to call for little attention in the grammars. Besides the person-thing and 
object-complement constructions, BDF list the "accusative of object and cognate 
accusative" and "accusative of object and of result" (86-87). 

*Cf. BDF, 85; A. T. Robertson, A Grammar of the Greek New Testament in the 
Light of Historical Research (4th ed.; Nashville: Broadman, 1934) 482-84; G. B. Winer, 
A Treatise on the Grammar of New Testament Greek, translated and revised by W. F. 
Moulton (3d ed., revised; Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, 1882) 284-85; H. W. Smyth, Greek 
Grammar, revised by G. M. Messing (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University, 1956) 
363-64. Others call this construction "an Accusative of the remoter object as well as of 
the immediate object" (C. F. D. Moule, An Idiom-Book of New Testament Greek 
[2d ed.; Cambridge: Cambridge University, 1959] 33), or a double accusative oi ""per- 
sonal and impersonal object" (H. E. Dana and J. R. Mantey, A Manual Grammar of 
the Greek New Testament [Toronto: Macmillan, 1927] 94). 


accusative. This paper is concerned only with this second type of 

Object- Complement 

An object-complement double accusative is a construction in 
which one accusative is the direct object of the verb and the other 
accusative (either noun, adjective or participle) complements the object 
in that it predicates something about it.'' This construction is called a 
double accusative of object and predicate accusative by Robertson, 
Blass-Debrunner, Turner, Smyth, Mayser, Kiihner, Jannaris, and 
others.* It is described as "an accusative of the object affected and an 
object complement" by Funk,^ "accusative of subject [!] and predi- 
cate" by Winer,'" and "A direct and predicate object" by Dana and 
Mantey." Others describe the construction in still different terms, '^ 
even as I have done. I use the name "object-complement" because it is 
brief and to the point. '^ 

'Another way of defining this construction which perhaps is technically more 
correct is that given by Goodwin and Gulick: "A verb and an accusative depending on 
it may together be treated as a single word having another accusative as its object" 
(W. W. Goodwin, Greek Grammar, revised by C. B. Gulick [Boston: Ginn & Co., 
1930] 227). 

^Robertson, Grammar, 480; BDF, 86; J. H. Moulton, A Grammar of New Testa- 
ment Greek, vol. 3: Syntax, by N. Turner (Edinburgh; T. & T. Clark, 1963) 246; Smyth, 
Greek Grammar, 362; E. Mayser, Grammatik der griechischen Papyri aus der Ptole- 
m'derzeit, vol. 2, part 2: Satzlehre (Berlin: Walter de Gruyter, 1934) 320 ("Ein Akkusativ 
des Objekts und ein Pradikatsakkusativ"); R. Kiihner, Grammar of the Greek Language 
(Boston: B. B. Mussey, 1849) 398; A. N. Jannaris, An Historical Greek Grammar 
(London: Macmillan, 1897) 332; H. P. V. Nunn, A Short Syntax of New Testament 
Greek (Cambridge: Cambridge University, 1943) 41; Goodwin and Gulick, Greek 
Grammar, 228; C. Vaughan and V. E. Gideon, A Greek Grammar of the New Testa- 
ment (NaslwiWe: Broadman, 1979)66. 

'R. W. Funk, A Beginning- Intermediate Grammar of Hellenistic Greek (2 vols.; 
2d, corrected ed; Missoula: Scholars, 1973) 2:725. 

'"Winer, Treatise, 285. 

"Dana and Mantey, Manual Grammar, 94. 

'^J. A. Brooks and C. L. Winbery (Syntax of New Testament Greek [Washington, 
D. C: University Press of America, 1979] 47) describe the construction as involving "a 
direct or primary object and a predicate or secondary object"; William Webster (The 
Syntax and Synonyms of the Greek Testament [London: Rivingtons, 1864] 64) states 
that "The second accusative often appears as a tertiary predicate or an apposition"; 
Moule (Idiom- Book, 35) comes close to the 'normal' description when he speaks of 
''The Accusative used Predicatively, i.e. to "predicate" something of a noun already in 
the Accusative." 

'^It should be observed that those grammars which do speak of the "object com- 
plement" mean by this the second accusative only, i.e., the predicate accusative. By the 
use of the hyphen in "object-complement," I am indicating both accusatives (hence, the 
whole construction) — the object and its complement. 



There are three issues I wish to discuss, namely, (1) the identifi- 
cation of the construction (i.e., how does one know when he has an 
object-complement construction?), (2) the identification of the com- 
ponents (i.e., how can one tell which is object and which is comple- 
ment?), and (3) the semantics of the construction (i.e., in addition to 
the obvious fact that predication is involved, what else can the 
construction indicate?). 

Identification of the Construction ~^~ 

The problem in identifying the construction is due primarily to 
the fact that every verb which can take an object-complement con- 
struction is not required io do so.''* Consequently, not all would make 
a positive identification of the construction in a given instance.'^ For 
example, Phil 3:18 reads, ouc; noXkaviic, eXeyov i)|iiv, vOv Se Kai 
K?Laia)v A.8yfo[,] xohc, exOpouc; xoC oTaupoO. It is possible to take toix; 
^xQpoix; as an appositive to oui; (thus, "whom often I used to mention 
to you, and now weeping I say, [they are] the enemies of the 
cross . . .").'^ But a second possibility is to consider A,8y(o as having 
the meaning T call' here and to treat xo\)C, exOpoix; as the complement 
to an implied pronominal object (thus, ". . . but now, weeping, I call 
[them] the enemies of the cross . . .'").'^ There are not many question- 
able constructions such as this, but there are a few that are exegetically 

Identification of the Components 

The problem in identifying the components is that occasionally 
the natural order of object, then complement, is reversed. In most of 

'"E. v. N. Goetchius, The Language of the New Testament (New York: Charles 
Scribner's Sons, 1965) 141. It is to be noted, however, that some verbs regularly or 
almost exclusively take object-complements (e.g., f\yto\iai, ovond^o), and (pdoKto). 

'*No grammar gives an exhaustive list of object-complements in the NT. Conse- 
quently, such lists cannot be compared to discover the questionable instances. But by 
comparing translations and by attempting to reconstruct the semantic range of every 
possible object-complement construction (i.e., to see whether the construction in ques- 
tion must be or might be an object-complement), the definite and the questionable 
instances can be determined. 

'*In support of this view, cf. Winer, Treatise, 665; Robertson, Grammar, 413; 
M. R. Vincent, A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Epistle to the Philippians 
and to Philemon (ICC; Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, 1897) 117. 

''in support of this view, cf. H. A. A. Kennedy, "The Epistle to the Philippians" in 
vol. 3 of The Expositor's Greek Testament, ed. W. R. Nicoll (New York: Dodd, 
Mead & Co., 1897)461. 


the instances it is obvious which is object and which is complement. 
For example, Phil 3:17 reads exete tijtiov fjiiac;. A very literal trans- 
lation would not render this, "you have a pattern/ example in us," for 
that would require exeie tuttov f]/uTv. Rather, it should be rendered, 
"you have us as [a] pattern/ example." It is obvious, then, that this is 
an object-complement construction and that the order has been 
reversed. Such a clear instance demonstrates the reversal phenomenon 
and, at the same time, raises two questions: (1) What are the criteria 
for determining which is which since word order is not an infallible 
guide? and (2) Why is the order sometimes reversed? 

The Semantics of the Construction 

The third issue involves the semantics of the construction. As 
mentioned earlier, by definition an object-complement construction is 
a construction in which a predication is made. But beyond this given, 
what else can the construction indicate? Specifically, what is the dif- 
ference semantically between the order of object, then complement 
and complement, then object? For example, is it possible that when 
Paul wrote e'xeTE tutiov rmac; in Phil 3:17 he did not mean exactly the 
same thing as exexe f][ia(; tuttov? 


Concerning the identification of the construction, the standard 
grammars make almost no advances beyond defining the construc- 
tion'* and giving an abridged list of the kinds of verbs which take 
object-complements. Some of the grammars do point out that the 
complement is often preceded by eic; or cbg.'^ Unfortunately, not only 
is there a very high percentage of cases where etc; and (be; are absent, 
but even when either one is present, there is not, ipso facto, an object- 
complement construction. ^° With reference to the identification of the 
components, only one of the more than thirty grammars examined 
explicitly addressed the question of order in an object-complement 

Goetchius (Language, 141) is a lone exception to the silence of the grammarians: 
"Object complements occur only with certain verbs (all of which also occur with 
'ordinary' direct objects, i.e., without object complements), e.g., call, make, find, think, 
deem, choose, elect. Some of these verbs also occur with indirect objects (e.g., call, 
make, find), so that it may not always be immediately apparent whether sentences 
containing them are structurally similar to (3) ['The child gave the dog a bone'] or to 
(4) ['The general called the captain a fool']; usually, however, the meanings of the 
nouns Nj and N3 [in the construction Ni-V-Nj-Nj] are compatible with only one 
interpretation (and, hence, with only one structural analysis) of a sentence." 

"Robertson, Grammar, 480-81; BDF, 86-87; Turner, Syntax, 246-47. 

^"Cf., for example, Matt 9:38; 22:13; Mark 1:12; Rom 6:22; 2 John 10. 


construction.^' Some grammars did, however, deal with the issue of 
order implicitly, giving some guideUnes which will be discussed below. 
Concerning the semantics of the construction, apart from the fact 
that the complement is making an assertion about the object, again 
only one grammar gave any explicit guidelines. ^^ But not one ad- 
dressed the question of the difference in force between the normal 
order and the reversed order. 


Method of Research Used 

In order to come to any sound conclusions, it was necessary to 
be as exhaustive in the inductive process as possible. By means of the 
grammars, thesaurus, concordance, and lexicon, I discovered more 
than fifty verbs which take object-complements" and more than three 
hundred object-complement constructions in the NT. The raw data 
gathered is at least enough to provide guidelines which may help to 
inform and possibly resolve the three issues. 

Solution Proper 

In dealing with each of the three issues, some guidelines or prin- 
ciples that have been derived from the study are first set forth, and 
then some of the exegetically significant passages affected by this 
study are briefly discussed. 

' Goetchius (Language, 142) again was the lone exception, stating, "The constitu- 
ents of these Greek sentences may, as we might expect, occur in any order; both the 
direct object and the object complement are in the accusative case, but the direct object 
is always more 'definite' than the object complement." 

^^Goetchius, Language, 142. 

^'included in the list of verbs are the following: ctyidi^co, dyco, aheco, dvaTpecpco, 
d7to5eiKvu|ai, (mo'kxxii, d7iooTe^>tC0, yeuonai, yvvcooko), Mxo\ia\, 5i8coni, Sokeco, ^yeipco, 
el5ov, etnov, ^Kpd>i?ico, ^K>.eyco, ev8eiKVU|ii, tnyKoktai, eupioKco, e^co, r|yeopai, 9e>tco, 
Gewpeo), iKavoco, i'oTri|ii, Ka6ioTr|pi, Ka>.^to, Kr|puoocD, Kpivco, >ia|iPdva), Xeyo, Xoyi- 
^o|jai, vopi^co (in spite of the protests by BDF [86] and Robertson [Grammar, 480] 
that vojiii^o) does not take an object-complement in the NT, there are two unmistakable 
instances [cf. 1 Cor 7:26 — voni^co ouv toCto Kokbv i)7idpxeiv and 1 Tim 6:5 — vom^ov- 
Twv Tiopiopov elvai ttiv euoePeiav]), ol8a, b\io'koyi(S), 6vopd!^(o, Ttapa>ta|ipdv(o, Tiap- 
exio, Jiapiotripi, TteiGo), Ttepidyo, Triaieuco, tioi^m, Ttpoopi^co, npoatpepco, TrpoTiGrini, 
JtpoxeipiCM, ouviripi, ouviaTr||ii (auvioTdvco), TiGrmi, UTioKpivonai, unovoem, u\|/6a), 
(pdoKco, xPTl^i"''^iC'^- In addition to these are three questionable verbs — KaTaK^-ivco, 
KaTavoeco, and 6pi^co. As well, the NT uses tuxXtyai, ^Tiovond^m, and Ttpooayopeuo) in 
the passive which, in the active, would take object-complements (in the passive, the 
object is converted to the subject and the complement to the predicate nominative/ 


Identification of the Construction 

General Principles. With reference to the identification of the 
construction, I have counted about thirty questionable instances. The 
most common of these involved an infinitive as the complement.^'' 
The question here is whether the infinitive is functioning substan- 
tivally as the complement to the direct object or in some other 
capacity. ^^ But however the infinitive is tagged, the meaning of the 
total construction is not altered. A second group of instances was 
debatable because the alleged complement could possibly be a simple 
appositive to the direct object.^^ Other constructions were questionable 
because of the relation of the adjective to the direct object," the 
function of eic, before a second accusative,^* the ambiguity of the case 
of the second noun,^' etc.^° 

Since there was a positive identification of more than 90% of all 
possible object-complements examined,^' and since the questionable 
instances fell into very specific structural categories, certain principles 
for determining the identification of the construction become evident. 
First, what must be established is that the verb related to the con- 
struction in question can, indeed, take an object-complement. In the 
case of hapax legomena and other rare verbs, appeal can certainly be 

'"Cf. Rom 1:13; 11:25; 1 Cor 10:1; 12:1; 2 Cor 9:5; Phil 2:25; 3:13; 1 Thess4:13; 
1 Tim 2:4. 

^'in particular, as a complememary infinitive to the verb. 

^*Cf. Matt 27:32 (here avOpconov Kuprivaiov might be a Semitic periphrastic 
construction [cf. Matt 1 1:19] in which U^'X is left untranslated when followed by 
an appositional substantive. The idiom, however, is also found in Greek. Cf. W. E. 
Jelf, A Grammar of the Greek Language Chiefly from the German of Raphael Kiihner 
[2d ed.; 2 vols.; Oxford: James Wright, 1851] 1:102; and Demosthenes 1. 1, 2, 4, 6, 
8, 9, 10; 9. 19, 23, 25, 36, etc.); Acts 13:6, 23; Rom 10:9; Phil 3:18; Col 2:6, 1 Pet 3:15; 
Rev 13:17. 

"Cf. Acts 6:13; 24:20 (interrogative pronoun); Titus 2:10. 

''Cf. Eph 1:5. 

^'Cf. Heb 4:7 and Rev 9:1 1 (here, of course, AtioXXijcov is nominative in form, but 
the author may possibly be treating it as an indeclinable noun functioning as an 

^"Other constructions were debatable because the adjective could be substantival 
and the pronominal adjective related to it could be modifying it (John 2:1 1; 4:54), or 
the verb was not found with any clear object-complements (1 Pet 3:15), or dvd was 
wedged between cboei and the second accusative (Luke 9:14). 

^'When the instances involving infinitives are discounted, the positive identifica- 
tion is closer to 95%. 

"E.g., dyid^to seems to take an object-complement construction in 1 Pet 3:15 
(though there are some dissenters among the translations), but no other clear NT 
examples can be found (though 1 Thess 5:23 comes close). However, in the LXX there 


specifics of the structure in question must have parallels in positively 
identified object-complements. Thus, for example, if the possibility 
that ^axriodv le jidpTupac; vj/euSeiq is an object-complement in 
Acts 6:13" is even to be entertained, clear instances of an anarthrous 
object with a predicate adjective must be found. Finally, once these 
first two points are established in a given text, I believe that, barring 
contradictory contextual factors,^'* the antecedent probability is that 
the construction in question is indeed an object-complement.^^ 

Exegetically Significant Texts. From my count, there are at 
least eight exegetically significant passages which are affected by the 
issue of the identification of the construction.^^ Four of these pas- 
sages are affected by the other two issues as well,^^ and consequently 
will not be discussed here. Of the remaining four, two passages, 
Phil 3:18 and Titus 2: 10, warrant a brief treatment at the present 

are two examples (Exod 29:1 and 30:30) in which an infinitive probably functions as a 
complement as well as one example (Isa 8:13, the text which lies behind 1 Pet 3:15) in 
which dyidi^ci) clearly takes an object-complement. 

"The difference exegetically between taking V|/eu8ei(; predicatively and attributively 
is that a predicative vj/euSeli; makes more explicit the intention of Stephen's enemies to 
produce false witnesses (thus, "and they brought forth witnesses [to be] false"). 

"An illustration of possibly contradictory contextual factors is found in Acts 
13:23 — 6 Geog . . . fiyayev tw 'Iopafi>. ocoTfjpa 'IriooOv. If the construction is taken as 
an object-complement ("God has brought to Israel Jesus [as] Savior") rather than 
simple apposition ("God has brought to Israel a savior, [namely] Jesus"), one is faced 
with the difficulty that Jesus is introduced in the message as though the residents of 
Pisidian Antioch were already familiar with his name. 

"This antecedent probability varies in certainty directly in proportion to how well 
the first two principles are established in a given instance. If they are established at all, 
tagging the construction as object-complement must at least be given serious con- 

''John 2:11; 4:54; Acts 13:23; Rom 10:9; Phil 3:18; Col 2:6; Titus 2:10; 1 Pet 3:15. 

"Acts 13:23 (for a brief discussion, see n. 34 above); Rom 10:9; Col 2:6; 1 Pet 3:15. 

'*The two remaining constructions are found in John 2: 11 and 4:54. John 2: II 
reads, Tauiriv ino'\r\azv dpxfiv tmv armeicov 6 TriaoCq. The ASV, RSV, NASB and 
NIV all take ^7toir|aev here in the sense of 'he did,' with the RSV and NIV treating 
dpxTjv as an appositive to Tauiriv and the ASV and NASB regarding TauTrjv as 
modifying dpxf)v. However, if SjioiriaEv has the sense of 'he made' here, then the 
construction is an object-complement (thus, "Jesus made this [to be] [the] first of his 
signs"). The object-complement construction makes more explicit the idea of design on 
the part of Jesus while the other reconstruction of the text only speaks of his power. 
John 4:54 reads, toOto 8e nakiv Seutepov ari|i£lov Snoiriaev 6 'IriooC(;. Here again the 
translations all treat ^noirioev as 'he did.' Although they all seem to recognize the 
construction to be an object-complement, they weaken its force by treating ^Ttoirioev 
as though it belonged in a relative clause (almost as though they were translating toOto 
8e TtdXiv f|v 6euTepov orineiov 6 ^7toir|oev). But '\{ tno\.r\ozv has the force of 'he made' 
(thus, "Now again, Jesus made this [to be] [the] second sign"), then not only is there 
design in the selection of miracles recorded (cf. John 20:30-31), but also in the sequence 
and performance of them as well. 


In Phil 3:18 Paul says, 7io?i^oi yap TrepiTtaToOaiv cue; noXX&Kic, 
eA-eyov u|iiv, vCv Se Kai K>.aia)v >.8yo)[,] loug txQpovc, xoO oiaupoO 
ToO XpiaTOU. If Touq ^x^Poy^c, is in apposition to oug, then there 
appears to be a change in description, but not a change in status, of 
the object. One of the problems with this view, however, is the func- 
tion of ydp. Unless it is equivalent to Se, the noXXoi of v 18 apparently 
belong to the same camp as "those who are thus walking" (xovc, outco 
TrepiTraxoOvTag) in the previous verse. However, if ?Ley(o has the sense 
of 'I call,' and if vOv 58 has a contrastive force rather than a con- 
tinuative force, then there is an object-complement construction here. 
If so, it becomes apparent that there is a shift in status from the oug 
to the Tovc, ^x^PO'Lx; (thus, "For many are walking, about whom often 
I used to speak to you, but now, even weeping, I call [them] the 
enemies of the cross of Christ. ")^^ Obviously the interpretation of this 
text cannot be solved on the basis of grammar alone, but the fact that 
an object-complement construction is at least possible here gives 
some breathing room to the exegete in this thorny passage. 

In Titus 2:9-10 Paul commands Titus to exhort Christian slaves 
to be obedient to their earthly masters. In v 10 he describes both a 
negative and a positive aspect of what their conduct is to be. The 
positive aspect is described in the participial clause Tiaoav niaxiv 
8v58iKvu|i8vou(; dya0f|v. Although most would understand dya9f|v as 
an attributive adjective modifying Triativ (thus, "showing forth all 
good faith"), it is possible that dya0f|v is a predicate adjective, func- 
tioning as the complement to TiioTiv (thus, "showing forth all faith [to 
be] good"). Grammatically and exegetically this may be valid, though 
the grammarians and exegetes do not mention the possibility. 

Although there are other grammatical arguments in favor of a 
predicate dyaOfiv,''^ the concern here is only with those which are 

'it should be mentioned that there are several clear examples of the omission of a 
pronominal object in an object-complement construction (thus paralleling the con- 
struction here). Cf. Matt 23:9; John 6: 1 5; Rom 1 :22; 2 Cor 11:2; Phil 3:8; 1 Thess 2:13; 
3:15; Heb 11:11; 2 Pet 1:8; 2 John 4. 

"""in particular, the relation of adjective to noun in anarthrous constructions could 
be cited in favor of a predicate dyaGriv here. In cursory form, the evidence derived 
from such a consideration is as follows. In non-equative clauses and phrases I have 
discovered over forty completely attributive relations in adjective-noun-adjective con- 
structions in the NT (e.g., Matt 7:17; 23:35; Eph 1:3; Rev 18:2). However, none of the 
constructions involving naq and only one other attributive construction had an inter- 
vening word between the noun and second adjective (cf. Rom 1:11). Also, seven of the 
naq constructions were in prepositional phrases, a situation which does not parallel 
Titus 2:10 (e.g.. Col 1:10; 2 Tim 3:17; Titus 3:1). 

I also discovered thirteen instances in which one adjective was attributive and one 
was predicate in non-equative clauses/ phrases (e.g.. Matt 5:36; John 7:23; Col 1:28 
[here with Jia<; and, interestingly enough, an object-complement construction]). In four 
instances the second adjective was separated from the noun by an intervening word or 


directly relevant to object-complements. By applying the three maxims 
related to the identification of an object-complement construction, at 
least the possibility of an object-complement construction here can be 

First, evSeiKVUfii does indeed take an object-complement else- 
where in the NT/' Second, there are other instances of object-comple- 
ments which involve an anarthrous object and a predicate adjective,"*^ 
as well as scores of passages which exhibit the more general parallel 
of a predicate relation in an anarthrous noun-adjective construction/^ 
Third, other exegetical considerations do allow for this possibility,'"' 
and there are apparently not any contextual factors which exclude it 

phrase (cf. Mark 7:2; 8:19; Acts4:16; Rev 15:1). John 10:32 also has an intervening 
verb between the noun and adjective {noXXa epya eSei^a uiaiv KoXd), but there is 
ambiguity as to the function of the second adjective. 

Therefore, although the attributive constructions outnumbered the constructions 
in which the second adjective was predicate three to one, the second type of construc- 
tion commonly had an intervening word between noun and second adjective. Further- 
more, none of the definitely attributive relations with nac, in the first attributive 
position had an intervening word between the noun and second adjective. Thus, 
although the construction in Titus 2:10 is similar to wholly attributive constructions in 
that it has naq before the noun (but cf. Col 1:28 for an example in which the naq 
preceding the noun is attributive and the adjective following is predicate), it is similar 
to part attributive/ part predicate constructions in that there is an intervening word 
between the noun and second adjective. There is, then, a good possibility (might one 
even say, an antecedent probability?) grammatically that dyaOriv is a predicate adjec- 
tive in Titus 2:10. 

For more information on the whole area of the relation of adjective to noun in 
anarthrous constructions, see D. B. Wallace, "The Relation of Adjective to Noun in 
Anarthrous Constructions in the New Testament" (unpublished Th.M. thesis; Dallas 
Theological Seminary: May, 1979) and the article by the same title (which is derived 
from the thesis) in A'ovr26 (1984) 128-67. 

"'Cf. Rom 2:15. As well, at least one of the cognate verbs also takes an object- 
complement (d7to5eiKVU|ii in 1 Cor 4:9). Furthermore, 2 Mace 9:8 has a precise parallel 
to Titus 2:10 {(pavepdv xoC GeoO Ttaaiv Tfjv dvvafxiv ivSeiKvofxevoQ). This is obviously an 
object-complement construction because the adjective (pavepdv is outside of the article- 
noun group TTiv Suvajiiv. 

'^Cf. Luke 3:8; John 9:1; Acts 10:28; Col 1:28. 

""See Wallace, "The Relation of Adjective to Noun" (thesis). Appendix II: 73-102 
in which almost 400 such constructions are charted. For the more precise parallel, cf. 
n. 40 above. 

■'"The main question exegetically has to do with the meaning of 7iiaTi<;. This noun 
seems to be used in the pastoral epistles frequently as a technical term for the Christian 
religion (cf. 1 Tim 1:2; 3:9; 4:1, 6; 2 Tim 2:18; 3:8; Titus 1:13; 3:15). In two of the three 
occasions in which TtioTii; is modified by an adjective (in Titus 1:4 Koivr|v modifies 
JiioTiv, suggesting more about the scope of this faith than about its character), the 
adjective used is dvunoKphog (cf. 1 Tim 1:5; 2 Tim 1:5). The author seems concerned 
that one's faith be a sincere faith. An insincere faith is apparently not genuine (cf. 
1 Tim 1:19; 4:1; 5:8; 6:21; 2 Tim 3:8), but a sincere faith is closely associated with holy 


from consideration. Consequently, the antecent probability is that 
Titus 2:10 does contain an object-complement construction. If it does 
then the sense of Titus 2:9-10 could be expressed in the following 
loose translation: "Slaves should be wholly subject to their masters 
. . . demonstrating that all [genuine]'*'* faith is productive, with the 
result"*^ that they will completely adorn the doctrine of God."'*^ 

Again, grammar does not solve all of the exegetical problems by 
any means, but if the principles for identifying object-complement 
constructions have any validity at all, then one must at least deal 
seriously with the possibility of such a construction in Titus 2:10, 
even though such a possibility apparently has hitherto gone unnoticed. 

Identification of the Components 

General Principles. With reference to the identification of the 
components of an object-complement construction, it has already 
been pointed out that word order is not an infallible guide. Therefore, 
some other criteria must be used to supplement if not supplant the 
principle of word order. 

On the basis of several strands of evidence, I believe the follow- 
ing overall thesis for solving the problem of the identification of the 
components can be stated: the object-complement construction is 
semantically equivalent to the subject-predicate nominative construc- 
tion. This thesis is the major point of this article. Therefore, any 
principles which help to resolve the identification of the components 
in a subject-predicate nominative construction are equally applicable 
to the object-complement construction. Two points must be estab- 
lished in order to validate this thesis. First, it needs to be established 
that there is analogy between the two types of constructions. And 

behavior (cf. 2 Tim. 3:15-17; Titus 1:13-16 — the author links faith with holy behavior 
outside the pastorals as well (cf. Eph 2:8-10; Col 1:4, 6, 10]). 

Thus if a more technical sense for Ttiotig is understood in Titus 2:10 (J. W. Roberts 
["Every Scripture Inspired by God," Restoration Quarterly 5 (1961) 35] apparently 
leans toward a more technical sense for nac, here, for he writes, ". . . the context shows 
that the word pas means 'perfect' or 'complete' faith"), the author may be instructing 
Titus to exhort slaves to demonstrate that their faith is sincere and that it results in 
holy behavior. 

■"'Genuine' may either be implied from the flow of argument or may be considered 
as part of the field of meaning for Tifig when it is used with abstract nouns (cf. BAGD 
on nac, 1. a. 5.). 

"^'Tva here is taken as having an ecbatic force. 

"'a further argument to help validate this sense is the possibility of a synthetic 
parallel between the two halves of v 10 which is evident only when dyaOriv is taken as a 
predicate adjective. Thus, to demonstrate that genuine faith is productive is to adorn 
the doctrine of God. 


second, the thesis needs to be tested on specific object-complement 

The following lines of evidence establish, I believe, that the 
object-complement construction is semantically equivalent to the 
subject-predicate nominative construction. (1) By definition, both the 
complement and the predicate nominative make an assertion about 
another noun in the same case. (2) The terms used to describe the 
object-complement construction in most grammars strongly suggest 
such semantic equivalence. As the reader will recall, it was mentioned 
earlier that many of the major grammars call this construction an 
object and predicate accusative construction.'** And Winer goes so far 
as to call the construction an "accusative of subject and predicate 
[italics mine].""^ (3) The infinitive of the copula occasionally occurs 
in an object-complement construction, linking this construction to the 
subject-predicate nominative construction semantically.^" (4) Many 
of the verbs which take an object-complement also take a declara- 
tive/recitative OTi clause (and even, occasionally, some other use of on 
which involves its own subject-predicate nominative clause) in which 
there is a subject-predicate nominative construction.^' (5) Occasion- 
ally, the manuscripts even vacillate between an object-complement 
construction and a subject-predicate nominative construction in a on 
clause,^^ illustrating that the scribes probably considered the two con- 
structions to be semantically equivalent. (6) As several grammars 
point out, when a verb which takes an object-complement construc- 
tion in the active is transformed into a passive, the object becomes 
the nominative subject and the complement becomes the predicate 

" See the definition of terms above and n. 8. 

"'Winer, Treatise, 285. 

'°Cf. Man 16:13; Mark 8:27, 29; Luke 9:20; 20:41; 23:2; Acts 5:36; 8:9; 16:5; 17:7; 
19:35 (inD); 20:6; 28:6; Rom 1:22; 14:14; 15:8; 16:19; 1 Cor 7:7, 26, 32; 10:20; 2 Cor 
11:16; Phil 3:8, etc. 

"Cf. John 4:19; 10:34-36 (though a slightly different situation here); 20:31; Matt 
21:26— Mark 11:32; Acts 16:3; Rom 8:18; Phil 2:1 1; etc. 

"Cf. Rom 10:9 (ono^oyrioTn; . . . KOpiov 'IrjooOv in most manuscripts; 6ho>lO- 
■yr|OT)c; . . . oti Kupioc; 'Ir|ooC(; in B). We might add here that the biblical authors 
occasionally vacillate between the two constructions. For example, Mark 11:32 has a 
mixed construction (object-OTi-predicate nominative: elxov tov 'I(odvvr|v ovtox; 6ti 
7rpo(prJTr|(; fiv) which parallels the object-complement in Matt 21:26 (dx; Ttpo(pr|Tr|v 
exouoiv TOV 'Icodvvriv). In John 10:34-35 there are parallel thoughts in which one is an 
object-complement and the other is direct discourse (though not directly introduced by 
a recitative on: oti ^ycb elno' Oeoi taxz . . . ei ^Keivouq etnev Geoijq. Notice also v 36 in 
which the thought is carried on: uioq toO OeoO ei|ii). Cf. also Rom 9:25 and 1 Pet 2:10 
for a similar parallel. 


nominative.'^^ (7) Occasionally, such a passive transform is in a paral- 
lel text to an object-complement.^'* (8) "The predicate nom. and the 
predicate ace. are somet. replaced by eig w. ace.,"" suggesting that 
both constructions were treated as semantically identical by the bibli- 
cal and Koine writers. (9) Finally, the few principles which the 
grammars do mention for distinguishing object from complement are 
identical with the ones they suggest for distinguishing subject from 
predicate nominative.^^ 

Now all of this may seem like a case of linguistic overkill. How- 
ever, by firmly establishing that the object-complement construction 
is semantically equivalent to the subject-predicate nominative con- 
struction, it is possible to make logical deductions both with regard to 
the identification of the components and with regard to the semantics 
of the construction." 

Having established that the object-complement construction is 
semantically equivalent to the subject-predicate nominative construc- 
tion, principles used in identifying the components in this latter con- 
struction can now be applied to the former. Unfortunately, as 
McGaughy laments, "Although the problem of subject identification 
. . . appears to be elementary, traditional grammars provide little or 
no help in solving it."^* The introductory grammar by Goetchius is a 
rare exception. ^^ Therefore, I will begin with his principles, making 

"Cf. Robertson, Grammar, 485; Radermacher, Grammatik, 120; Goodwin and 
Gulick, Greek Grammar, 228; Kiihner, Grammar, 398. For examples of texts, cf. 
Matt 21:13; Luke 1:76; 15:21; Acts 1:23; 4:36; 10:5, 18,32; 11:13; 1 Cor 4:2; 2 Cor 5:3; 
Gal 2:17; Rev 5:4; etc. 

^''For similar texts (though not strictly parallel), cf. Luke 1:13 {KaXeaziq to ovona 
autoC 'Icodvvriv), v 59 (^KdXouv auxo . . . Za/apiav), and 2:21 (^K^fiGri to 6vo|aa auxoC 
'IrjooOg). These may be considered parallel in the sense that the verbage is similar 
though expressed by two different constructions. 

''BAGD, S.V., "ei(;,"230. sec. 8. 

'^Normally the only principle mentioned for either construction is that the article 
will be with subject/ object, but not with predicate nominative/ complement. Goetchius 
is a lone exception, giving five principles by which to identify the subject and predicate 
nominative. Furthermore, he does, via analogy, apply these principles to the object- 
complement construction (cf. Language, 45-46, 142). 

"Although the exegetical implications are far greater in relation to the semantics 
of the construction, it is necessary first to establish this semantic equivalence argument 
in consideration of the identification of the components. 

'*L. C. McGaughy, Toward a Descriptive Analysis of Eivai as a Linking Verb in 
New Testament Greek (Missoula: Society of Biblical Literature, 1972) 25. 

''of the more traditional grammars, S. G. Green {Handbook to the Grammar of 
the Greek Testament [revised ed.; New York: Fleming H. Revell, n.d.] 179) is the only 
one examined to mention that, besides the fact that the subject will have the article, the 
subject will often be a pronoun. 


refinements along the way/*^ Goetchius states: 

We may lay it down as a general principle that, if two nouns in the 
nominative case are connected by an equative verb in Greek, the more 
definite of the two is the subject. Thus: 

(a) If one of the two nouns is a proper name, it is the subject. . . . 

(b) If only one of the nouns has the article, it is the subject. . . . 

(c) If both nouns are equally definite (or indefinite), the one which 
has the narrower reference is the subject. . . . 

(d) If one of the two nouns has been referred to in the immedi- 
ately preceding context, it is the subject. . . . 

(e) If an equative verb joins a noun to a pronoun, the pronoun is 
the subject. . . .^' 

From a pragmatic point of view, only two refinements need to be made 
of Goetchius' principles. (1) The grid of definiteness vs. indefiniteness 
is overly simplistic. One should at least bear in mind that this seman- 
tic range is not cut and dried. Rather, there is a continuum from 
indefiniteness to qualitativeness to definiteness.^^ (2) Goetchius appar- 
ently does not believe that the subject-predicate nominative construc- 
tion can sometimes be a convertible proposition.^^ If so, he virtually 
stands alone among grammarians.^'* 

From a linguistic standpoint, McGaughy's critique of Goetchius' principles is 
well taken (Analysis of Eivai, 29-33; cf. 36-54 for McGaughy's solution). However, 
from a practical standpoint, Goetchius' treatment does solve the problems in most 

"Goetchius, Language, 46. 

''^P. B. Harner has ably pointed out the importance of seeing this continuum 
("Qualitative Anarthrous Predicate Nouns: Mark 15:39 and John 1:1," JBL 92 [1973] 
75-87). Perhaps the grid of general to specific might be better nomenclature (so 
M. Zerwick, Biblical Greek Illustrated by Examples [Rome: Scripta Pontificii Instituti 
Biblici, 1963] 55). 

^^Goetchius (Language, 46) uses 1 John 3:4 as an example of his principle '(c)' with 
the suggestion that "there are other kinds of lawlessness besides sin." McGaughy 
(Analysis of Eivai, 32-33) rightly questions Goetchius' use of 1 John 3:4 in this way: 
"rule (c) must be questioned since the meaning of 'definite-indefinite' has been shifted 
from a grammatical to a semantic one. In the example under this rule Goetchius 
explains that he has chosen d|iapTia as the subject of the sentence because '. . . there 
are other kinds of lawlessness besides sin.' In other words, sin is the subject, according 
to Goetchius, because it is the more definite of the two concepts. If one were to 
interpret this verse theologically, however, he could argue for just the opposite inter- 
pretation on the basis of Goetchius' rule: f] dvo|aia is the subject because there are 
other kinds of sin besides lawlessness. In either case, the point to be noted is that the 
determination of the subject on the basis of rule (c) is arbitrary and inadmissable, 
therefore, as a grammatical rule." 

'"'Cf. Robertson, Grammar, 768; Zerwick, Biblical Greek, 56; Harner, "Qualitative 
Anarthrous Predicate Nouns," 75, 77; et al. Robertson (Grammar, 769), in fact, uses 
Goetchius' same proof text (1 John 3:4) as an illustration of a convertible proposition! 


As far as the application of these principles to the object-com- 
plement construction is concerned, all that needs to be said here is 
that they are, indeed, valid. Of the more than sixty constructions 
examined in which the order had been reversed between object and 
substantival complement, the identification of the object could be 
positively made in every instance by using these principles.^'' The 
verification of this is that in only one passage was there even a slight 
possibility of confusion between the object and complement. ^^ There- 
fore, our examination of the reversed order in object-complement 
constructions has overwhelmingly confirmed the thesis that the 
object-complement construction is semantically equivalent to the 
subject-predicate nominative construction. 

Exegetically Significant Texts. The only exegetically significant 
text which is affected by the issue of the identification of the com- 
ponents is also the only one which was slightly ambiguous. But both 
the context and the fact that one accusative had the article rendered 
the components in John 5:18 as clearly identifiable. The text reads 
Tratepa i'Siov e^^eyev tov Geov. It must, of course, be rendered, "he 
called God his own father," rather than, "he called his own father 

*'For examples involving a proper noun as the object, cf. Matt 3:9; 21:26; 27:22; 
Luke 3:8; Acts 8:37 (v./.); 17:7; Rom 10:9; Rev 9:11. For examples involving a pro- 
noun as the object, cf. Matt 14:5; 21:46; Mark 10:6; John 16:2; 19:7, 12; Acts 2:36; 
17:22; Rom 4:17; 2 Cor 1 1:16; Gal 4:14; Phil 3:17; 1 Pet 3:6; 1 John 1:10. For examples 
involving the definite article with the object, cf. Matt 16:13; John 8:41; Phil 2:6; Heb 
7:24; 1 1:26; Jas 5:10; 1 Pet 1:17; 2:16. 

I would also suggest that this analogy between the object-complement and subject- 
predicate nominative constructions is valid in distinguishing the subject of an infinitive 
from a predicate accusative. Thus, whereas H. R. Moeller and A. Kramer ("An Over- 
looked Structural Pattern in New Testament Greek," NovT5 [1962] 27) argue for word 
order as the normal guide when one is faced with "two consecutive case substantives 
constructed with an infinitive," when such a construction also involves an object- 
complement, there is a better semantic approach than mere word order. Perhaps the 
principles for distinguishing subject from predicate nominative are even valid for all 
seventy-seven infinitival constructions examined by Moeller and Kramer (and would 
thus supplant their word order principle which, at bottom, strikes me more as a 
phenomenological approach than a semantic one). 

^^Te., in all but one text (John 5:18) the considerations of sense determined what 
was object and what was complement. In all of these the 'rules' coincided with the 
obvious sense of the passage. John 5:18 was the lone exception for, apart from these 
'rules,' one could conceivably see TiaTepa as object and tov Geov as complement. 
However, in light of the overall context, such a meaning would be absurd. And even if 
the context had been ambiguous, since the validity of the 'rules' has been established in 
all other reversed order constructions, such grammatical evidence would be wholly on 
the side of taking Ttaxepa as complement and tov Oeov as object. 


The Semantics of the Construction 

General Principles. With reference to the semantics of the con- 
struction, the main question has to do with the difference in force 
between the order object followed by complement and the order 
complement followed by object. In order to resolve this issue, one can 
start with the established thesis that an object-complement construc- 
tion is semantically equivalent to a subject-predicate nominative 

Specifically, a "rule" developed by E. C. Colwell comes into 
consideration here. In an article in JBL in 1933, Colwell stated the 
following rule: "Definite predicate nouns which precede the verb 
usually lack the article. "^^ He went on to point out that "a predicate 
nominative which precedes the verb cannot be translated as an 
indefinite or a "qualitative" noun solely because of the absence of the 
article; if the context suggests that the predicate is definite, it should 
be translated as a definite noun . . ."^* The implication from this 
study is that to the extent that Colwell's rule is applicable to predicate 
nominatives it is equally applicable to predicate accusatives. But 
before making the transfer from nominative to accusative, a warning 
is in order. Colwell's rule has been abused almost from the time it was 
penned. Most grammarians and exegetes have assumed the converse 
of Colweirs rule to be equally true, namely, that anarthrous predicate 
nominatives which precede the copula will usually be definite. But 
such is not the case, as Harner^^ and Dixon^" pointed out. Suffice it 

'''E. C. Colwell, "A Definite Rule for the Use of the Article in the Greek New 
Testament," yfi/. 52 (1933) 20. 


'"'Harner, "Qualitative Anarthrous Predicate Nouns," 75-87. 

™P. S. Dixon, "The Significance of the Anarthrous Predicate Nominative in John," 
(unpublished Th.M. thesis; Dallas Theological Seminary, 1975). Dixon illustrates the 
illegitimate application of the converse of Colwell's rule: "The rule does not say: an 
anarthrous predicate nominative which precedes the verb is definite. This is the con- 
verse of Colwell's rule and as such is not a valid inference. (From the statement 'A 
implies B,' it is not valid to infer 'B implies A.' From the statement 'Articular nouns are 
definite,' it is not valid to infer 'Definite predicate nominatives are articular.' Likewise, 
from the statement 'Definite predicate nominatives preceding the verb are anarthrous,' 
it is not valid to infer 'Anarthrous predicate nominatives preceding the verb are 
definite.')," (pp. 11-12). 

The problem, methodologically speaking, is that Colwell began his study with a 
semantic category (definite predicate nominatives which precede the verb) rather than a 
structural category (anarthrous predicate nominatives which precede the verb). This 
problem was compounded by the fact that Colwell assumed definiteness in certain 
passages (e.g., John 1:1) which were highly debatable. Both Harner and Dixon began 
with structural categories and determined the semantic range of such. Their conclusions 
were virtually identical: anarthrous predicate nominatives which precede the verb are 
usually qualitative (cf. Harner, "Qualitative Anarthrous Predicate Nouns," 87; Dixon, 
"Anarthrous Predicate Nominatives," 54-55). 


to say here that anarthrous pre-copulative predicate nominatives will 
fall within the semantic range of qualitative-definite^' and anarthrous 
post-copulative predicate nominatives will usually fall within the 
semantic range of qualitative-indefinite.^'^ 

Unfortunately, the application of Colwell's rule to the object- 
complement construction is severely hampered by the fact that (1) the 
infinitive of the copula does not usually occur and (2) when it is 
present, the complement usually follows the verb." 

However, there is a further implication derived from Colwell's 
study which may prove beneficial to the issue at hand. I have dis- 
covered that, as a general rule, in verbless sentences, when the predi- 
cate nominative precedes the subject it has the same semantic range 
as though it had preceded a verb.^" Thus, by analogy, when an 

"Cf. Harner, "Qualitative Anarthrous Predicate Nouns," 75-87 and Dixon, "Anar- 
throus Predicate Nominatives," 31-53, 54-55. As well, from my cursory observation of 
this phenomenon in the entire NT, I would agree substantially with their conclusions 
(allowing for a somewhat higher percentage of definite predicate nominatives), noting 
that I have not discovered one clear example of an /^definite pre-copulative anarthrous 
predicate nominative. (The implication of this for John 1:1, then, is still that, on gram- 
matical grounds, the translation of Beoq f\v 6 \6joq as "the Word was a god" is 
inadmissable.) The passages in the NT which contain an anarthrous pre-copulative 
predicate nominative that I have discovered thus far are: Matt 4:3, 6; 5:34, 35 (twice); 
12:8, 50; 13:39 (twice); 14:26, 33; 23:8, 10; 27:40, 42, 54; Mark 2:28; 3:35; 6:49; 11:17, 
32; 12:35; 14:70; 15:39; Luke 4:3, 9, 22; 5:8; 6:5; 1 1:48; 22:59; 23:6; John 1:1,12, 14, 49; 
2:9; 3:4, 6 (twice), 29; 4:9, 19; 5:27; 6:63 (twice), 70; 7:12; 8:31, 33, 34, 37, 39, 42, 44 
(twice), 48, 54; 9:5, 8, 17, 24, 25, 27, 28, 31; 10:1, 2, 8, 13, 33, 34, 36; 11:49, 51; 12:6, 
36, 50; 13:35; 15:14; 17:17; 18:26, 35, 37 (twice); 19:21; Acts 3:15; 7:26, 33, 52; 9:15; 
10:27, 36; 13:33; 16:3, 17 (v./.), 21, 37; 22:27, 29; 23:6, 27; 28:4; Rom 1:9; 13:4 (twice), 
6; 14:23; 1 Cor 1:18 (twice); 2:14; 3:16, 19; 4:4, 16; 6:15, 16, 19; 1 1:3 (twice); 2 Cor 1:24; 
2:15; 6:16; 1 1:22 (thrice), 23; Gal 3:29; 4:1, 25, 28; 5:4; Phil 2:13; 1 Thess 5:5; 1 Tim 6:2, 
10; Heb 1:5, 10; 3:6; 5:5, 13; 9:15; 11:16; Jas 1:27; 2:23; 4:4; 5:17; 1 John 1:5; 2:2, 4; 4:8; 
and Rev 17:4; 21:22. 

"Cf. Harner, "Qualitative Anarthrous Predicate Nouns," 76. 

^'it should be noted here that the verb which takes the object-complement con- 
struction only introduces the construction but does not play a part in the semantic 
equivalence of this construction with the subject-predicate nominative construction. 
Therefore, its position is inconsequential with regard to the semantic range of the 
substantival complement (cf., e.g., Mark 11:17 and Luke 19:46; 1 Cor 9:5). 

'"When an anarthrous predicate nominative stands before the subject, it will either 
be qualitative or definite. This is apparently due to the fact th&t (1) had the verb been 
present, it more than likely would have come after the predicate nominative (thus 
approximating the semantic range of the anarthrous pre-copulative predicate nomina- 
tive), and (2) by placing the predicate nominative before the subject, an author is mak- 
ing the predicate nominative emphatic (cf. BDF, 248) and if emphatic, then by the 
nature of the case, it is moving toward the semantic range of qualitative-definite and 
away from the semantic range of indefinite-qualitative (since it is difficult to conceive of 
an /^definite predicate nominative being emphasized, though not entirely impossible). 

A few illustrations ought to suffice. In John 4:24 Jesus says to the woman at the 
well, 7tveu|ia 6 0e6<;. The anarthrous predicate nominative comes before the subject and 


anarthrous complement precedes the object, it will fall within the 
semantic range of qualitative-definite. And when an anarthrous com- 
plement follows the object, it will tend to fall within the semantic 
range of qualitative-indefinite. 

For example, when Jesus is called moc, GeoC/dvOpcoTrou in an 
object-complement construction, either uiov is anarthrous and pre- 
cedes the object (as in John 19:7), or it is articular and follows the 
object (as in Matt 16:13). When this is compared with the subject- 
predicate nominative constructions, the same pattern emerges. Thus, 
in John 10:36 vioc, is anarthrous and it precedes the verb, while in 
John 20:31 and 1 John 5:5 it is articular and it follows the verb.'^ 

Exegetically Significant Texts. There are literally scores of exe- 
getically significant passages which are affected by the issue of the 
semantics of the object-complement construction.^^ However, one 
passage in particular holds some interest for me. In Rom 10:9 there is, 
apparently, a soteriological-christological confession: edv 6|io?ioyr|- 
ariq £v x(b C5x6\iax\ oou Kupiov TriooOv . . . awGfiari. Not only is 
this passage exegetically significant, but it serves as an ideal model 
text to illustrate the validity of all three issues related to the object- 
complement construction. Therefore, this passage will be approached 
one issue at a time. 

there is no verb. Here, despite the KJV's rendering, Tiveufia is most certainly quahta- 
tive, stressing the nature or essence of God. In Phil 2:11 Paul proclaims that Kupiot; 
'IrjooCg Xpiaxoq ("Jesus Christ is Lord"). Here, as in John 4:24, there is no copula 
and the anarthrous predicate nominative precedes the subject. In light of the allusion to 
Isa 45:23, it is most probable that Kupioq should be taken as definite ("the Lord"). In 
the least, it should be taken as qualitative, not indefinite. By the use of parallel passages 
it is possible to confirm the semantic equivalence a bit further. Phil 1:8 reads ndpTuq 
ydp |iou 6 Qzoq. Rom 1:9 reads ^iapxvq ydp |aou eotiv 6 Qeoq. The force of the two 
constructions appears to be identical, though only in one is the verb present. However, 
in both constructions the predicate nominative precedes the subject. Rom 10:4 reads 
xtXoc, ydp vofiou XpioT6(; in which the sense is most probably, "Christ is the end of the 
law." Cf. also Mark 13:8 and 1 Thess 4:6 for other examples. 

'^For other texts which seem to demonstrate this analogy, cf. Matt 21:26 with 
Mark 11:32 (in which the construction in Matt 21:26 is a reversed order object- 
complement and the construction in Mark 11:32 approximates an anarthrous pre- 
copulative predicate nominative [see discussion in n. 52]); I Pet 1:17; John 19:7 with 
Matt 26:63. For examples of the semantic range of qualitative-indefinite for a comple- 
ment which follows the object, cf. Mark 12:23 (note that eo/ov auiriv yuvaiKa ["they 
had her as a wife"] is parallel to the subject-predicate nominative construction in the 
first part of the verse: xivoc; auTwv eotai yuvr| ["for which of them shall she be a 
wife?"]); John 10:33 (in which both dvOpcoTioq and Oeov are apparently qualitative, 
stressing the nature or essence of Jesus); Luke 20:43 (= Acts 2:35 and Heb 1:13); 
Acts 26:28; Rev 3:12. 

''Cf., e.g.. Matt 10:25; 22:43, 45; Mark 12:37; Luke 20:6, 41; 23:2; John 4:46; 5:18; 
10:33,35,36; 19:7; Acts 2:36; 13:23; 14:5; 17:7; 28:6; Rom 2:19; 2 Cor 4:5; Phil 2:6, 11; 
2 Thess 2:4; 1 Pet 1:17; 2:3 (v./.); 3:6, 15; 1 John 1:10 and 5:10 (cf. John 8:44). 


(1) The first question that needs to be asked here is, Is this an 
object-complement construction? In answer to that, note that it meets 
all three of the principles used in identifying an object-complement 
construction: (a) 6^oX,oye(o is used elsewhere with the object- 
complement construction;^^ (b) there are several clear instances of an 
object-complement construction involving two anarthrous nouns, thus 
affording a parallel to this textf * and (c) not only are there no con- 
textual factors barring the object-complement from consideration 
here, but there are in fact compelling factors to argue in its favor/^ 
Consequently, the antecedent probability is extremely high that this 
construction is, indeed, an object-complement. 

(2) The next question involves the identification of the com- 
ponents. The analogy of the subject-predicate nominative construc- 
tion indicates that the proper noun, lr|aoOv, must be the object and 
Kupiov its complement. 

(3) Finally, the semantics of the construction needs to be exam- 
ined. Specifically, what is the meaning of Kupiov here? Because it 
precedes the object, it has already been established that it falls within 
the qualitative-definite range. If qualitative, then the meaning is 
probably "master." If definite, then the meaning is more likely "Yah- 
weh" (i.e., "'the Lord").*° I believe that the meaning "Yahweh" is 
probably what is meant here. In support of this are the following lines 
of evidence. 

(a) From my count, there are five other passages in which the 
assertion is made that Jesus Christ is Lord (i.e., Kupioq is not in 
simple apposition with 'Ir|aoC(;/XpiaT6q, but the two are in a predi- 
cate relation). In Col 2:6, the most dubious example, the text reads 
napeXd^eie xbv Xpiaiov Tr|aoOv tov Kupiov. This may be read, 
"you received Christ Jesus the Lord" (a statement in which no predi- 
cation is made), or "you received Christ Jesus [as] the Lord" (an 
object-complement construction). If the construction is an object- 
complement, it is not insignificant that, although the complement 

Cf. John 9:22; 1 John 4:1; 2 John 7. Curiously, Robertson only admits these, 
ignoring Rom 10:9 (480), contra BDF (86). 

''Cf. Luke 23:2; 2 Cor 5:4; Jas 1 :2; Rev 9: 1 1 . 

"Although the force of 6|iO^OYeto is most compelling on the side of an object- 
complement, I found the Douay and KJV to deny the construction here; and of the 
modern texts examined, I found the same error curiously enough 'preserved' only in 
the New KJV. 

*°The qualitative idea, of course, would stress more what he does rather than 
specifying who he is (cf. 1 Pet 3:6). A definite Kupiov would probably have a par 
excellence force to it. Thus, by implication, since Yahweh is the one who deserves the 
name "Lord" above all others, Yahweh could well be implied by a definite Kupiov. 


(Kupiov) follows the object (Xpiaiov 'Ir|aouv), it too has the article.*' 
2 Cor 4:5 records the apostle's proclamation: Kripi3ooo|i8v . . . Xpiaxov 
'Ir|ooOv Kupiov. Since Paul has placed the complement (Kupiov) after 
the object (Xpioxov 'Ir|aoOv), and has not added the article, this 
could be an exception to the suggestion made here about Rom 10:9 
(i.e., it seems, by the grammatical principles laid down, that Paul is 
only declaring Christ to be master here, not Yahweh). But the context 
makes it clear that the author's emphasis is indeed that Christ is 
master, without reference to his deity, for the apostle goes on with the 
mildly antithetic parallel: Kr|pi3aoo|a8V . . . tavxovc, Se SoijXouc;. There- 
fore, this text in no way nullifies the proposal for Rom 10:9. In 
1 Cor 12:3 the apostle puts up the challenge: oCSeic; Suvaxai einelv 
Ki3piO(; 'IriaoOc; ei laf] 8v 7tvei3|iaTi ayio). There is dissension among 
the Greek witnesses, with several of the key Western and Byzantine 
texts converting this into the accusative (and hence, an object- 
complement construction). But even in these manuscripts, the order is 
the same.*^ These three texts, in the least, do not argue against the 
view of Rom 10:9 suggested here. In the first text (Col 2:6), the 
complement followed the object and was articular; in the second 
(2 Cor 4:5), though the complement was anarthrous, it was argued 
that Paul's emphasis was on Christ as master, not as Yahweh; and in 
the third (1 Cor 12:3), the statement and word order were parallel to 
Rom 10:9. 

There are two other texts, however, which make a substantial 
contribution to this discussion. In one, Phil 2:11, a subject-predicate 
nominative construction is in a oti clause (e^ono?ioyf|or|Tai oti 
Kupioc; 'IrjooCc; Xpiaiot;); in the other, 1 Pet 3:15, there is a probable 
object-complement construction introduced by ayid^o) (Kupiov Se tov 
XpioTov ctyidaaTe). In both of these texts, there is an allusion to the 
OT and specifically to Yahweh himself (Isa 45:23 and 8:13 respec- 
tively).*^ Thus, in the two parallel passages where the Kijpio;; clearly 

*'This, of course, is in keeping with Colwell's rule which asserts that a definite 
predicate nominative will either lack the article and precede the verb or have the article 
and follow the verb (or, in this case, the object). 

^^This text is in reality parallel to Rom 10:9 for it too makes a particular con- 
fession the test of faith. Rom 10:9 should be the basis for interpreting 1 Cor 12:3, 
rather than vice versa, because the evidence for 1 Cor 12:3 is far more scanty than in 
the Romans text. 

"isa 45:23 reads, pu^V-'jD V^V^n J\2-b:> vnan •'V'S (cf. vv 21-22 for the identifi- 
cation of the speaker as God [v 22— Vk-'JK 'D], i.e., Yahweh [v 21— mn' 'JK]), and the 
LXX translates, oti ^|ioi Kd)iV|/ei Ttfiv yovu Kai ^^o|io>.oyf|oeTai naaa yXibcsaa tm Gem. 
Paul quotes this text in Rom 14: 1 1 with reference to God and alludes to it in Phil 2: 1 1 
with reference to Jesus. Isa 8:13 reads, Wipn IHK mK3X mn"'-nK (LXX: Kupiov auTOv 
ayictoaTe). (Note that the direct object marker nx makes possible an object-complement 


refers to Yahweh, even though this predicate noun is anarthrous, the 
biblical author places it before the object/ subject to indicate that it is 
definite. Apparently, not only was the article unnecessary, but the 
reversed order seems to be the 'normal' way to express the idea that 
Kupioc; is definite.*'* 

(b) Codex Vaticanus strays from the pack in Rom 10:9, changing 
the object-complement to a subject-predicate nominative construction 
following OTi. If the preceding argument has any validity at all, then 
the variant only strengthens the view that Kupiov is equivalent to 
Yahweh here. 

(c) Finally, Paul continues his message in v 13 by adding a quote 
from Joel 3:5, "Everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall 
be saved." The Hebrew text of Joel 3:5 has mn"' for 'Lord' here. In 
vv 1 1 and 12 of Rom 10, Christ is still clearly in view; thus, to suggest 
that Kupiou refers to the Father ignores the obvious connection Paul 
is making here: to confess that Jesus is Lord is to confess that he is 
the Lord of v 13. If so, then the confession is of Jesus as Yahweh. 


The object-complement construction can be profitably put 
through the structure-semantics grid. Three issues with respect to this 
construction were raised in this study: (1) the identification of the 
construction, (2) the identification of the components, and (3) the 
semantics of the construction. With reference to the identification of 
the construction, three principles were suggested: (a) the verb related 
to the construction must be able to take an object-complement, 
(b) the specifics of the structure in question must have parallels in 
positively identified object-complements, and (c) there must be strong 
contextual overrides to prevent one from so tagging such a construc- 

Under the heading of the identification of the components the 
major thesis of the paper was stated, namely, the object-complement 
construction is semantically equivalent to the subject-predicate nomin- 
ative construction. Hence, the guidelines for one are guidelines for the 
other — both with reference to the identification of the components 
and with reference to the force of the construction semantically. 

construction in the Hebrew; the Greek is very clear. Elsewhere in the LXX, ctyidi^co 
takes an object-complement [cf. Exod 29:1 and 30:30 and the discussion of these texts 
in n. 32].) 

^''it is possible that the article was not added to KupiO(; in order to distinguish the 
subject/ object from the predicate noun. 


Concerning the semantics of the construction, it was noted that 
when the order was complement then object, the complement would 
fall within the semantic range of qualitative-definite. When the com- 
plement followed the object it would tend to fall within the range of 

With application to exegesis, just a few of the scores of passages 
affected by this study were noted. Among them, Titus 2:10 and 
Rom 10:9 received lengthy treatments and I suggested that the per- 
severance of the saints and the deity of Christ were implicit in these 
texts, respectively. 

In conclusion, although the reader may find some of the exe- 
getical suggestions stated herein to be debatable, he should remember 
that the purpose of this paper is not primarily to come to exegetical 
conclusions, but to raise exegetical questions on the basis of a better 
understanding of the semantics of a particular grammatical construc- 
tion. Therefore, if the grammatical arguments set forth in this paper 
help the exegete to see new possibilities (e.g., in Titus 2:10; John 2:1 1; 
4:54), or to strengthen old views (e.g., in John 5:18; Rom 10:9), this 
purpose has been accomplished. 


Harper's Introduction to the Bible, by Gerald Hughes and Stephen Travis. 
New York: Harper and Row, 1981. Pp. 128. $10.95. Paper. 

In noting the scant growth of a long-established church, a noted Christian 
leader was heard to remark that it had been "poorly born." That observation 
could be made with equal propriety to the book under consideration. 

The comments on the back cover announce that the book is (1) an 
introduction to all the biblical books, (2) a culturally integrated account of 
the biblical writers' beliefs about God and (3) a running commentary accom- 
panied by discussions of "key ideas, personalities and historical considera- 

Viewed in the light of such claims, the book falls far short of the reader's 
expectations. As to the first assertion, it scarcely qualifies at all. It certainly is 
not an introduction in the proper sense of the term, for it presents little that 
could pass for technical discussions on such matters as canonicity, text or 
special critical problems relative to the individual biblical books. 

Nor are all the books really covered. Apparently those books that are 
basic to the internal formation of Israel (Genesis 1 -Exodus 20) and its return 
from exile (Ezra, Nehemiah), and integral to an understanding of Jewish 
ethical aims and social standards (among the prophets: Isaiah, Jeremiah, 
Amos, Haggai, and Malachi; among the writings: Proverbs, Job and Ecclesi- 
astes) are particularly singled out for notice. Daniel and Ezekiel also receive 
special attention, but, unfortunately, are wedded to a discussion of inter- 
testamental apocalyptic literature. Perhaps the goal of providing an introduc- 
tion was intended to be somewhat realized for the OT by the inclusion of an 
overall chronological and topical chart. Unfortunately, the chronological 
scheme for the pre-kingdom era is largely hopeless — it is unreliable for the 
minor prophets, vacillates on Daniel and provides no dates at all for Joel and 
the poetic books. As for the NT, only distinctive details within the Gospels, 
Acts and Revelation receive notice — and these within the confines of thirty 

The main thrust of the book revolves around the latter two of the three 
claims found on the back cover. In so doing, the book aims to proceed in an 
"appealing, readable style," — and it does, though in such a simplistic manner 
as to be often almost condescending in tone. The result is that the book 
becomes a story, telling of Israel's fate among the nations of the ancient Near 
East (p. 1) especially as reflected in the lives of such early personages as 
Abraham, Joseph, Moses, Joshua, Ruth, Samuel and Job; such kings as 
Saul, David, Solomon, Hezekiah and Josiah; such prophets as Amos, Isaiah, 
Jeremiah and Ezekiel; such later leaders as Ezra, Nehemiah and Daniel, and 
concluding with Jesus and Paul. Often the storytelling takes on the flavor of 
an unfolding drama (e.g., God's dilemma with rebel man [p. 5], Israel's 
descent into Egypt through "Joseph the Dreamer" so that "the stage was set" 


for the Exodus [pp. 11-19], Moses' sadness at the people's unbelief in the 
wilderness [p. 20], Joshua's challenge at the entering of Canaan [p. 22], the 
romance of Ruth [pp. 31-32], the chaotic times in which Samuel was born 
and subsequently ministered [pp. 34-36], the conflicting fortunes of Saul, 
David and Solomon [pp. 36-44], Rehoboam's "fatal decision" that led to 
two divided ever weakening and worsening kingdoms [pp. 45-60] until "the 
curtain fell at last" on the fortunes of Judah [p. 61], the story of Jesus 
[pp. 99-106] leading up to the growing opposition that eventuated in his 
crucifixion and resurrection [pp. 106-10], and the "exploits" of the apostles 
[pp. 113-15], especially Paul [pp. 116-20]). 

Throughout the narration the reader's attention is directed to man in his 
existing situation and spiritual odyssey. Men "believed" (p. 29) or "became 
convinced" (p. 59) that they were "chosen" (p. 29) or "called" of God (p. 55) 
to "speak" (p. 53) a message that they "believed came from God (p. 54). At 
times, callous rejection of that message might leave a prophet "depressed and 
suicidal" (pp. 59-61), yet they "believed" that God was leading them and 
would help them. Jesus' parents "had come to believe that Mary would 
become the mother" of the Messiah. The church "felt the need" to send out 
the apostles. God tackles "the problem" of his relation to rebellious man by 
breaking into the sacred passages of salvation history with a new and fresh 
teaching of himself — Abraham had a new vision of God; Moses received 
knowledge of a new name of God; Jeremiah foresaw the day of God's new 
covenant with Israel and Judah who would serve God out of a heart filled 
with love, for "his will and purpose will be engraved in the hearts and minds 
of his followers" (p. 62); a theme taken up by Jesus and the first Christians as 
they preached concerning the "new way" through the coming of Jesus). Along 
the way God worked out his plan to give new life and hope to mankind, a 
program centered in Jesus' death and resurrection and foreseen as realized in 
the Book of Revelation. 

The primary focus on man in his relation to God doubtless accounts for 
a rather consistent humanistic tone (except for the resurrection, pp. 109-10) 
in the book. The fall of man is a "story told in a poetic and dramatic form" 
(p. 4). The creation, flood and Tower of Babel accounts are stories that form 
a prologue to "the dramatic message of the Bible" of the relation between 
man and God. The miraculous nature of the plagues and the Exodus is 
downplayed, as well as God's provision of the manna and quail in the desert. 
The Hebrews "saw" the stopping of the Jordan "as God's work" (p. 22), 
although Jericho simply "fell." The "superstitious" Philistines "believed that 
God was punishing them for taking the Ark" (p. 34). The Virgin Birth of 
Christ and his miracles are passed over in silence. At his baptism Jesus 
"heard a voice telling him that he was the promised messiah, and that he had 
been sent by God to bring people closer to God" (p. 102). Jesus dies simply 
from exposure and exhaustion. Pentecost becomes the occasion when the 
disciples became "conscious of the power of God" (p. 113). Even the com- 
pilation of the OT and the NT is traced along purely natural lines. 

The authors' approach to the Scriptures has nonetheless produced some 
commendable features. They provide helpful discussions (often in chart form) 
of such things as ancient Near Eastern creation and flood accounts, the 


history of those peoples and nations that most often provide the background 
setting for biblical activities (e.g., Sumer, Egypt, Assyria, Babylonia, Persia, 
Greece, Rome, Philistia and Samaria), the sacrificial system, and the devel- 
opment of Jewish religion. The brief notes regarding daily life in ancient 
Mesopotamia, Egypt, Palestine and the Roman world are particularly help- 
ful. These discussions are usually illuminated by supplementary photographs, 
charts, maps or diagrams carefully placed to aid the reader. It is to the 
authors' credit that they have emphasized the historical verifiability and 
crucial significance of the resurrection. All of these features furnish a source 
of commendation to the authors and publisher for a genuinely readable book, 
presented in a clear and tastefully sketched format. 

Nevertheless, one cannot but feel a bit uneasy concerning the message 
and purpose of the book. Crucial events and data are consistently interpreted 
along strict culturally integrated lines and without recourse to supernatural 
revelation. Indeed, the concept of a Bible which is an objectively verifiable 
record of inspired revelation has been submerged in a conscious attempt to 
"recapture the attitudes and life styles of the times" so that "we will be that 
much closer to understanding the intention and meaning of the writers" 
(Preface). Man is seen throughout the book in his spiritual struggle with a 
God who is ever merciful and desirous of bringing him into an ever new 
realization of his love. 

Accordingly, when the choice occurs between the supernatural and the 
natural, the divine and the human, or revelation and natural ability, the latter 
set of alternatives usually predominates. The first eleven chapters of Genesis 
become too much a product of their cultural environment. The Egyptian 
setting for Joseph is misplaced in the Hyksos era rather than the Middle 
Kingdom. The Exodus is Ramesside rather than Thutmoside. The length of 
Saul's reign is uncertain (despite Acts 13:21). The divine smiting of Sen- 
nacherib's army is ignored. Luke wrote a life of Jesus which has become one 
of the four Gospels and Paul's release from Philippi is explained in purely 
natural terms. 

In addition, one may find fault in a few critical areas. As to format, 
chapter and paragraph headings are seldom accurate descriptions of the 
enclosed material and a disproportionate amount of space seems to be arbi- 
trarily assigned to minor figures (e.g., Ruth) while whole portions of the 
Bible (e.g.. Psalms and NT epistles) receive scant attention, at best. As to 
data, it is anachronistic to speak of Israel as a Jewish nation at the time of 
Abram's call; El Shaddai probably does not mean "The God of the moun- 
tains" (p. 8); the significance of the name Yahweh is poorly explained; the 
route of the Exodus is surely in error; the nature of Baal worship is explain- 
able in terms other than a confusion with Melkart or Molech; the "50 years 
of peace" for Israel came ca. 800 B.C. not 850 (p. 52); the reliance of biblical 
writers of wisdom literature upon extra-biblical material is a bit overdrawn; 
the supposed demise of Hebrew from the everyday speech of the Jews after 
the exile and return is no longer so certain; the deep spiritual significance of 
Christ's substitutionary atonement and the descent of the Holy Spirit on 
Pentecost are clearly underemphasized; and Revelation was probably written 
by John the Apostle not a "Christian named John" (p. 127). 


One must wonder about the book's basic raison d'etre. It certainly 
appears to be aimed at the uninformed lay reader. Yet, evangelicals will not 
find the mediating viewpoint of the authors acceptable and nonevangelicals 
will not find the data they need to have a genuine biblical introduction at 
their disposal. The book may just after all be "poorly born." 

Richard D. Patterson 
Liberty Baptist College and Graduate School 

Handbook for Bible Study, by Grant R. Osborne and Stephen B. Woodward. 
Grand Rapids: Baker, 1979. Pp. 188. $4.95. Paper. 

Pastors and other Bible teachers should constantly be on the lookout for 
books which will help them be better Bible students and be better equipped to 
teach Bible study to others in the church. Sadly, such a ministry of teaching 
the congregation how to understand and be blessed by their Bibles is not 
common. The volume under review here should receive attention by all Bible 
teachers who believe it is their duty to equip the saints for the work of 
ministry (Eph 4:12). It is similar to earlier works on the same subject,' but in 
some ways is quite superior to them. 

Osborne and Woodward divide their book into two main sections, Bible 
Study Methods and Bible Study Tools. Section one includes chapters on 
introduction, basic methods, advanced methods, and more advanced methods. 
Section two covers basic tools, tools for students, and tools for pastors and 
teachers. There is also a conclusion and a rather unique appendix on sources 
for out-of-print books. 

I especially appreciated the hortatory aspects of the book. Osborne and 
Woodward underline the need for expository preaching (pp. 10-1 1) and the 
need for "lay people" to study their Bibles (p. 12). They even offer practical 
suggestions for pastors and teachers to help meet these needs (pp. 156-84). 
There is in this discussion a balance and sensitivity to the academic/ content 
versus practical/ method tension which is sometimes ignored in such discus- 
sions. The authors are competent scholars and concerned ministers. 

A few other plusses include the advocacy of a "whole to part" method 
where students are shown how to interpret the details in light of the overall 
content of a book (pp. 18-19). This is preferable to a supposedly strict induc- 
tive approach. Also, the sections on charting (pp. 24-49) and especially 
diagramming (pp. 50-66) are helpful. The diagramming material presents a 
synthesis of the "line" and "block" diagramming methods which may prove to 
be more beneficial than either of the other two methods. There is also a 
concise explanation of hermeneutical "laws" (pp. 151-55; would "principles" 

E.g., \. L. Jensen, Independent Bible Study (Chicago: Moody, 1963); W. M. 
Smith, Profitable Bible Study (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1963); M. C. Tenney, Galatians: 
Charter of Christian Liberty (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1960); R. A. Traina, Method- 
ical Bible Study (Wilmore, KY: By the author, 1952); and H. F. Vos, Effective Bible 
Study (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1956). 


have been a better term?). One wonders, however, why this excellent and 
crucial material was placed so far back in the book. 

A few minor quibbles could also be mentioned. The authors begin on a 
note that may be too optimistic (p. 9). The book is marred by far too many 
typographical errors (pp. 23, 1 15, 126, 129, 135, etc.). There are overgenerali- 
zations regarding apologetics (p. 179) and the interpretation of parables 
(p. 152), though this is almost unavoidable in a short work of this type. The 
authors could have explained and emphasized the importance of reading 
through a book of the Bible at one sitting instead of merely assuming its 
practice (p. 47). 

It is a sad fact that those who confess most loudly the priesthood of all 
believers often do not equip believer-priests to study God's revelation. This 
work not only makes an excellent case for such equipping, but it also does an 
excellent job of showing how it can be done. Pastors and teachers on every 
level, from Sunday school to seminary, are responsible to equip the saints. 
This book will be profitable to teachers all along this wide spectrum of 
Christian education. 

David L. Turner 
Grace Theological Seminary 

Joshua, by Trent C. Butler. Word Biblical Commentary. Waco: Word, 1983. 
Pp. 304. $18.95. 

Butler's commentary on Joshua is another important study to appear on 
the scholarly scene. Butler presents a fresh translation along with bibliog- 
raphy, notes on the Hebrew text, a discussion of the "Form/ Structure/ 
Setting" of each passage, and comments on the meaning of each passage. 
Every aspect of the commentary reflects Butler's erudition. 

The translation is generally accurate and is done in readable English 
style. However, the frequent use of "you all" for the second person plural 
masculine detracts from the translation's appeal. The author also translates 
with choppy English sentences at times and he has a penchant for beginning 
sentences with the conjunctions "and" or "but." 

Butler's bibliography for each passage is impressive, reflecting wide 
acquaintance with difficult material. The bibliography is diagnostic of the 
author's theological stance since conservative works such as Woudstra, Joshua, 
NICOT are cited only rarely. The bulk of the entries would not be sym- 
pathetic towards viewing the text as inspired. 

The notes on the Hebrew text are not extensive,' but are often helpful 
although Butler does exhibit reluctance to follow the MT. Butler categorizes 
his decision to use the MT as an "arbitrary choice" (p. xx)." 

It is in the section dealing with "Form/ Structure/ Setting" that the 
author's views emerge with the greatest clarity. He does maintain that the 
text was inspired (e.g., pp. xxi, xliii, 141), but his thoroughgoing traditio- 
historical approach makes it quite clear that his concept of inspiration is 
nothing like that of theological conservatives. Butler's version of tradition 


history sees the book of Joshua as a part of the larger work of the Deuteron- 
omistic history (e.g., pp. xxvi, 34, 100, 173, 269, etc.). The Deuteronomist 
wrote during the exilic period in order to encourage Israel during her days of 
national deprivation and depression (e.g., pp. xliii, 117, 257, etc.). The Com- 
piler's work began with traditions which did not necessarily have any relation 
to historical events, but which were retold and reinterpreted until the tradition 
was commonly viewed as the word of God (pp. xxiii, xliii, 99, 117, 125). 
Butler comfortably asserts that "specific pieces of tradition have been joined 
without logical consistency or narrative harmony" (p. 22; cf. p. 41). Such 
historical pessimism is obviously troubling, especially in a commentary which 
is billed as being "evangelical." Clearly, Butler's tradition history is incom- 
patible with the view of canon, revelation, inspiration and historicity held by 
inerrantists. Furthermore, as a liberal critical commentary, Butler's work will 
not supersede Boling and Wright's work in The Anchor Bible. 

The Word Biblical Commentary, of which Butler's work is a part, is 
intended to "showcase the best in evangelical critical scholarship." Butler's 
theological stance as reflected in Joshua demonstrates that the term "evan- 
gelical" has become largely meaningless. Butler is not an "evangelical" in the 
classic meaning of the word. The potential user of the commentary may think 
the commentary is of one type when in fact it is of quite another. 

G L. Klein 
Dallas, TX 

Ugarit and The Old Testament, by Peter C. Craigie. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 
1983. Pp. 110. $5.95. Paper. 

Craigie is Professor of Religious Studies and Dean of the Faculty of 
Humanities at the University of Calgary, Alberta, Canada. He is the author 
of The Problem of War in the Old Testament and The Book of Deuteronomy 
in the NICOT. His work tells the story of the remarkable discovery made at 
Ras Shamra in Syria of the remains and libraries of the ancient city of Ugarit 
which was destroyed by barbarian invaders shortly after 1200 B.C. The book 
relates the story of that discovery and attempts to describe the life and 
civilization of the ancient city. It also updates the account with more recent 
archaeological finds and recounts and assesses the extraordinary impact the 
discovery has had on the last 50 years of OT studies. 

The work is written in a non-technical fashion and should be of interest 
to all readers of the Bible, especially students and pastors concerned with 
contemporary archaeological discoveries and their impact on OT studies. The 
modern reader faces several problems when confronting the biblical message. 
The first and foremost is the amount of time which has elapsed since the 
writing of the original text. In addition are the problems of language and 
cultural barriers. Thus, as the author says, 

this book is intended to be a guide for the genera! reader of the Old Testament. 
It will fill in some of the story lying behind the use of the word Ugarit that is so 
common in modern textbooks and commentaries. And it is hoped that it will 


contribute also towards bridging the gap between the modern world and the 
ancient world, so that the contemporary reader of the Old Testament can turn 
to that ancient book with more profit [p. 6]. 

It must be noted that this is a "brief" and "general" introduction to Ugaritic 
studies as there is little new information available for the specialist except, 
perhaps, in chap. 1. 

Chap. 1 is entitled "New Light On The Biblical World" and lays down 
the impetus for a study of Ugarit because "Ugarit is more significant; its 
archives and ancient texts have added fundamentally to our knowledge of the 
Old Testament world, to an extent far greater than has been the case with 
other archaeological sites excavated in the world east of the Mediterranean" 
(p. 6) The only new material in the book is found in this chapter which 
narrates the background to the discovery of the texts themselves. This is not 
usually found in secondary literature. 

Chap. 2, "The Rediscovery Of A Lost City," offers some detailed knowl- 
edge of the early days of the city within an historical framework. The chapter 
tells of the amazingly fast decipherment of the tablets which are dated to 
more than 1200 years before the time of Christ. The tablets were written in a 
kind of cuneiform alphabet and include ten different languages with at least 
three (Ugaritic, Hurrian, and Akkadian) in alphabetic cuneiform. 

Chap. 3, "Life In Ancient Ugarit" paints the socio-politico-economic 
picture of Ugarit and focuses on her golden age from the reign of "^Ammis- 
tamru III (ca. 1390-1360 B.C.) through '^Ammurapi III in 1200 B.C. It should 
be noted that the "t" in the name of Ugarit is missing in figure 11 on p. 39. 

It is in chap. 4, "Ugaritic Language And Literature" that Craigie presents 
a well-balanced account of the alphabetic cuneiform language for the layman. 
He says. 

The written texts are important not only for the study of Ugarit's life and 
history; they are also vital for the comparative study of the world of Ugarit and 
the Old Testament world. Their value is increased by the relative lack of similar 
textual evidence from the southern geographical region of Palestine in which the 
Hebrews settled early in the biblical period. From the historical period of the 
Old Testament, very few ancient texts have been recovered by archaeologists. 
Complete Hebrew inscriptions from the early biblical period number less than 
20, and none of them are long [p. 44]. 

In addition to this, Hebrew and Ugaritic share many common words (figure 15 
cites twelve), common features in grammatical structures, and literary con- 
ventions. "The most distinctive form of Ugaritic poetry is what is called 
parallelism, a form familiar from its frequent usage in biblical poetry" 
(pp. 53-54). This phenomenon is illustrated from the, Baal myth and then a 
brief but accurate summary of the three main literary texts (the legend of 
Keret, the epic of Aqhat, and the Baal cycle) is presented. 

Several items are quite interesting and informative as they pertain to the 
above texts. The Legend of King Keret is significant, focusing on the ideo- 
logical dimensions of kingship (as do many texts in the ancient world). The 
king, called the "son of god" (El) (cf. Pss 2 and 89:26, 27), was responsible to 
his god for the control of human society and for the protection of orphans 
and those in need of aid (cf. many OT passages and even Jas 1:27 in the NT). 


The Legend of Aqhat relates the pHght of the king{?) Daniel (identified 
by some liberals with the biblical Daniel) who experiences the death of his 
son Aqhat. Many of the themes are familiar from other Near Eastern litera- 
ture: (1) the concern for a son and successor; (2) the fertility of the land; 
(3) blood vengeance for an act of murder (cf. kinsman-redeemer and Levit- 
ical cities of refuge in OT); and (4) conflict with the goddess of love and war. 

It is in the mythology of the god Baal, who replaced El as the supreme 
god during the Golden Age of Ugarit (1390-1200 B.C.), that three key inci- 
dents are related in probable sequence. The first relates to Baal and Yamm 
(the sea god). The story in outline form is typical of one part of common 
Near Eastern creation myths. 

First, in the cosmogonic process, there are the gods of the primeval, chaotic 
waters; second, there come those gods who represent the ordered aspects of the 
emerging world. Then there emerges the classical tension between the powers of 
chaos and the forces of order, and only when order has triumphed over chaos 
can creation be said to be fully established (cf. Genesis 1-2 and many com- 
mentaries for related ideas in the biblical text) [p. 63]. 

The second incident relates the concern over a palace for Baal. After the 
defeat of Yamm, Baal established his right to rule by the construction of a 
palace. His temple on earth was central to the recognition of his kingship and 
authority over the threatening forces of nature (the chaos god Yamm) by 
which he provided the earth with the beneficent rains so necessary for the 
crops. By way of comparison, note that the throne for Yahweh is mentioned 
in Exodus 15 after his defeat of the Egyptian gods. 

The 3rd incident depicts Baal and Mot (the god of death). Initially Baal 
is defeated but then Mot is slain by Anat and Baal is rescued. After he 
returns home, the perennial conflict with Mot and death begins. This conflict 
is reenacted each year in the people's fertility cult observances. 

When Craigie deals with the controversial issue of the impact of Ugaritic 
studies in the OT in chap. 5, "The Old Testament And Ugaritic Studies," he 
presents a fair assessment with his usual caution. He selects important con- 
tributions that have clearly resulted in a better understanding of the OT. He 
even shows how Ugaritic has occasionally been misused by some who try to 
make it say more than it can legitimately. Such an approach is welcome in a 
day when ancient Near Eastern studies are sometimes pressed into apologetic 
and confirmatory service by conservatives whose motives may be good but 
whose use of the sources may be questionable. 

Several examples from chap. 5 were found to be most enlightening. One 
was Craigie's understanding of Psalm 29 as a polemic against Baal the 
Canaanite lord of nature. 

Language normally employed to worship Baal (cf Ginsburg, Gaster, and Cross 
who assert Israel borrowed this hymn lock, stock, and barrel from the Canaan- 
ites) for the awesome might of the thunderstorm did not rightfully belong to 
him who was no true god. Such language belonged to the God of Israel alone 
[p. 71]. 

Psalm 29 is "not merely a psalm praising God as the Lord of nature. It is a 
psalm which rings out that praise in a world dominated by the belief that 
nature was the domain of Baal" (p. 71). 


Equally interesting was the discussion of Isa 14:12-14 as it relates to the 
identification of Lucifer. Craigie suggests that rather than turning to the 
mythology found in Greek literature (e.g., the myth of Phaethon) which 
presents a chronological problem, one might turn to Ugaritic texts for the 
literary antecedents to Isaiah 14. Athtar is called the "Luminous One" in 
Ugaritic texts and reference is made to his "shining" — a direct parallel to the 
name Helel, "Shining One," employed in Isaiah. For a brief interregnum, 
Athtar attempts to fill Baal's throne. Athtar is identified as a warrior god, 
which makes the parallel between him and the arrogant Babylonian king of 
Isaiah 14 even more precise. The essence of the parallel, however, is to be 
found in the inadequacy of Athtar. 

He attempts to fill the throne of the great god Baal during his absence, but he is 
too small for the throne and his feet do not reach the ground, (cf. Phaethon in 
the Greek story who attempted to drive his father's golden chariot but was 
unable to control the massive power of its horses), symbolizing his inability to 
exercise the powers of Baal. The essence of the background is essentially 
inadequacy; just as Athtar could not fill Baal's throne, so too the Babylonian 
king could not exercise the divine powers that he claimed for himself. And if it 
can be assumed that the amusing story of Athtar was well known to Isaiah's 
audience, then the power of the parody of this Babylonian potentate is all the 
more evident [p. 87]. 

Exodus 15, according to Craigie, has subtly employed certain Canaanite 
mythological themes in a polemical way. These include conflict, order, king- 
ship, and palace-construction. The unique idea presented in the biblical text 
is that of the permanence of the reign of Yahweh and not Baal — "the Lord 
shall reign for ever and ever" in v 18; cf. the enthronement Psalms for similar 
terminology. Just as Genesis 1 celebrates the creation of the world, so 
Exodus 15 celebrates the creation of a new people, Israel. Also the Hebrews 
are enjoined to observe the Sabbath in Exodus on the basis of God's creation 
of the world. But in Deut 5:15 the Sabbath is to be observed in commemora- 
tion of the Exodus from Egypt which established the nation as God's new 

Also interesting are the discussions relating to Amos the "Shepherd," 
cooking a kid in milk (Deut 14:21), Psalm 104, Judg5:17 and "ships," and 
the musical background to the Psalms. Craigie's discussion of Deut 14:21 
best demonstrates his scholarly approach in which caution is a key word 
when citing supposed parallels. 

Chap. 6, "New Discoveries And Future Perspectives: Ebla and Ras Ibn 
Hani," very clearly presents his caution against employing the concept of 
"proving" the Bible from archaeological finds, especially in relation to Ebla. 
There are two reasons presented for caution. One is the fragmentary nature 
of the evidence which has not been observed first hand by most writers and 
has not been carefully studied. Second, he believes that there is a misguided 
enterprise (actually, part of a trend) that is "sweeping the current Christian 
world, that lays hold of any scrap of apparent evidence to support the 'faith,' 
whether it be the planks of Noah's ark, the tablets of Ebla, or the shroud of 
Turin" (p. 98). For the author, to prove that the historical narrative of the 
OT is accurate, if such were possible, does not prove the essential truth of the 
Bible — namely, what it says about God. "That must always remain both the 


subject and the object of faith" (p. 98). The discoveries at Ras Ibn Hani only 
several miles from Ugarit are especially significant in that they give evidence 
for the reestablishment of the area after the Sea Peoples' invasion which 
destroyed Ugarit in 1200 B.C. Up until the present, there has been very little in 
the way of physical evidence of the culture of the Sea Peoples. 

Chap. 7, "A Guide For Further Study And Reading," is also very 
helpful. It presents a bibliography for chaps. 2-6 and there are few if any 
significant omissions of publications necessary to an informed use of the 
Ugaritic materials. 

Only a few shortcomings need be cited. There is a lack of photographs of 
the site and its artifacts which makes it necessary for the reader to consult 
ANEP. The maps and figures are rather bare. In fact, there is no map that 
places Ugarit within the ancient context of the Indus valley, Greece, or 
Mesopotamia. Fig. 14 is certainly not the best example of a clay tablet 
"indicating difficulties in reading (from surface abrasions)" p. 49. This tablet 
actually looks almost perfect. There are thousands of damaged tablets that 
show not only mild abrasions but severe ones plus lacunae from broken parts 
and burns from which Craigie might have presented an example. Since the 
decipherment began with the inscription on an axe handle (pp. 14, 16), it 
would have been more appropriate to show an axe head with an inscription 
beginning with the letter "1," with which ViroUeaud started, than with the 
letter "h" as depicted in fig. 4, p. 14. It would also be very helpful to provide 
the reader with the Ugaritic text references, especially in chap. 5, so that the 
reader might compare Scripture with the Ugaritic evidence to form his own 

Nevertheless, it must be noted that in the total absence of polemics, the 
fluent and pleasant style, the pertinent data, and the selective bibliography, 
Craigie has produced a very useful study tool. This book should be manda- 
tory reading for all students of the Bible. 

Stephen R. Schrader 
Liberty Baptist College and Seminary 

Exodus, by Ronald F. Youngblood. Everyman's Bible Commentary. Chicago: 
Moody, 1983. Pp. 144. $4.50. Paper. 

This commentary was refreshing to read. There is every evidence of 
professional skill in it, and, equally important, an evidence of love and 
appreciation for Exodus is reflected on every page. This love is illustrated by 
the following quotation: 

I am becoming increasingly convinced that Exodus is the Old Testament's 
greatest book. Not only does it expand on many of the themes and bring to 
fruition many of the promises of Genesis, but it also introduces us to the most 
profound meanings of the Lord's name, to the most basic summary of the 
Lord's law, to the divine instructions that brought into being the Lord's Taber- 
nacle and priesthood, and to the divine initiative that established the Lord's 
covenant. . . [p. 7]. 


This appreciation of Exodus's theological importance animates the discussion 

That the author is a thoroughgoing conservative is evident in his handling 
of points of scholarly debate. On Mosaic authorship he states: "there is 
conclusive evidence in favor of Mosaic authorship as opposed to the anony- 
mous writers that the documentary hypothesis suggests" (p. 1 1). The astound- 
ing number of Israelites ("two to three million") is to be taken literally 
(pp. 72-73). Concerning the date of the exodus event, the author concludes: 
"no longer are there weighty reasons for preferring the 1295 date (the so- 
called 'Late Date' which is the near unanimous liberal position) over the 1445 
date" (p. 14), and "the available evidence once again seems to be tilting rather 
decisively in favor of the traditional date of the Exodus — about 1445" (p. 16). 
While I have always promoted the early date, it is true that such a position is 
not in the majority. In order to solve one of the major problems for the early 
date position (the reference to Ramses in Exod 1:11) Youngblood states that 
"In both Genesis and Exodus, 'Ramses' was not the original name of the site 
but represents a minor editorial change made by scribes long after Moses' 
time to update the references for their readers, just as 'Dan' in Genesis 14:14 
is an editorial update for the name of a city that was called 'Laish' until the 
days of the judges" (pp. 13-14). To be fair, however, it should be added that 
the major difference between the anachronism of Judg 18:29 and Exod 1:11 is 
that in the case of Dan/ Laish the ancient name was "glossed" with the 
updated name, while retaining the former name. There is no versional support 
to reveal such an editorial updating in the case of the name Ramses in Exod 

There are a number of areas where I have modest disagreements. The 
author writes: "The establishment of God's chosen people of Israel as a 
'kingdom of priests and a holy nation' (Exod 19:6) is the major theme of the 
book of Exodus." While this is certainly a theological truth, I doubt that it is 
in reality the major theme; it is mentioned only once in the entire book. 

On the other hand, in characterizing the contents of the book, the author 
suggests, with many others, that it is the story of redemption. "The story of 
Exodus is the story of how God redeemed His people" (p. 18). It is precisely 
at this point that some serious issues need to be raised. The heart of the 
problem is identified when Youngblood writes, "Old Testament and New 
Testament redemption are not identical, of course" (p. 68). In no other place 
in his discussion is this basic distinction ever integrated into the theological 
meaning of "redemption" in the OT, as opposed to its meaning in the NT. 
Youngblood is an excellent theologian and knows the different meanings for 
the word "redemption" in the testaments: witness the statement, "Old Testa- 
ment redemption at the time of the Exodus was primarily physical and politi- 
cal, whereas New Testament redemption is primarily spiritual" (p. 68). The 
rest of the commentary, however, has failed to make this important distinc- 
tion clear. 

An example demonstrates how a layperson might not come to the proper 
conclusions. "God has called us 'out of darkness into his wonderful light' 
(1 Pet 2:9), just as [emphasis mine] He did the Israelites at the time of the 
Exodus" (p. 92). While it is true that the ancient Israelites came into the 


presence of divine light (the pillar of light), there was no necessary salvation 
in participating in the exodus (contra his statements on p. 100 implying that 
to participate evidenced this faith). Consider also the statement, "Just as the 
redemption [emphasis mine] brought about by the crucifixion and resurrec- 
tion of Jesus Christ constitutes the main theme of the New Testament, so the 
redemption brought about by God's 'mighty acts of judgment' (7:4) at the 
time of the Exodus constitutes the main theme" (p. 68). Do we really want to 
argue that everyone who participated in the exodus event was eternally 

The answer, of course, is that "redemption" in Exodus does not mean 
"eternal redemption." As Youngblood points out, the basic meaning in the 
book is "ransom." God was creating for himself a nation which he "redeemed" 
from Egypt. The nation is not, however, redeemed in the NT sense of 
the word. In Exodus redemption centered around liberation from earthly 
bondage, earthly provision, and an earthly covenant whose blessings and 
curses are, in the main, earthly. It is striking to note that the two words 
normally translated "redeem" are either rare or unattested in the book, ms, 
for example, is used eight times as a verb and once as a noun but never with 
God as the subject. Vk:^ is used twice, only once with God as the subject. It is 
not necessary that the author should agree with my statements; rather, he 
should have made clearer to the lay reader the implications of the concept of 
OT "redemption" from Egypt. 

There are several other points which might need clarification. For 
example, the so-called attestations of the tetragram at Ebla and Mari are 
hotly debated.' Furthermore, I doubt that Pharaoh was hoping for an 
increase of Hebrew wives for his harem when he ordered the killing of the 
male Hebrew babies (p. 28). I would also have preferred a greater emphasis 
on the plagues as a polemic against Egyptian gods and religion. 

These comments do not reflect general dissatisfaction with the work. 
Both the author and the publisher are to be commended for giving to the 
entire Christian community an emminently readable and informative com- 
mentary by one of the better scholars in that community. 

Donald Fowler 
Grace Theological Seminary 

For a convenient example see Giovanni Pettinato, "Ebla and the Bible," BA 43:4 

(1980) 203-5. Most scholars no longer accept readings of the divine name Yahweh at 
Ebla. The common view is that the ya is hypocoristic; see Alfonso Archi, "The Epi- 
graphic Evidence from Ebla and the Old Testament," Bib 60 (1979) 556-66. Some have 
maintained that the reading is a divine name, but argue that the deity Ya is Hke 
^Elohim, generic; see, for example Mitchell Dahood, "The God Ya at Ebla?" JBL 100 

(1981) 607-8. At the very least we ought to reserve judgment on the issue after the 
manner of K. A. Kitchen (The Bible in its World: The Bible and Archaeology Today 
[Downers Grove: InterVarsity, 1978] 47). 


The Gospel of John, by F. F. Bruce. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1983. Pp. xii 
+ 425. $13.95. 

This volume is a significant contribution to the available literature on 
the fourth gospel in that it is written by a leading scholar in the field of NT 
history and literature but is "intended for the general Christian reader who is 
interested in serious Bible study, not for the professional or specialist student" 
(p. 7). With this emphasis, technical points are generally reserved for notes at 
the end of each chapter, Greek and Hebrew words are transliterated, and a 
contemporary translation based on the 26th edition of the Nestle-Aland Text 
is offered. 

The translation by Bruce is fresh and lucid. On occasion it includes the 
author's interpretations which are explained and supported in the comments. 
For example, louSaioi is translated "Judeans" in 7:1 and 11:8 in order to 
communicate more precisely what is implied. In 2:4 and 19:26, yuvai is trans- 
lated "Lady" to avoid the mistaken notion of disrespect which one might 
assume from the English vocative, "Woman." The distinctively Johannine 
'A^^iv d[|af|v is rendered "Indeed and in truth." Bruce supports his translation 
by referring to the Hebrew counterpart which means "steadfast," "sure," and 
writes: "On Jesus' lips it confirms the certainty and trustworthiness of what 
he says, and was preserved untranslated in the Greek-speaking church as his 
ipsissima vox, proclaiming his unique authority" (p. 62). The translation 
"Only-begotten" for iiovoyevrig is surprising in light of the present day move 
to abandon that terminology in favor of "one of a kind" or "unique." 

In light of the intent to write for the "general Christian reader," the 
following words and phrases are notable: "encomium" (pp. 60, 237), ""opus 
operatum" (p. 85), '\sotto voce" (pp. 174, 179), '"au pied de la lettre" (p. 240), 
"ingressive sense of the aorist" (p. 246), "cerements" (p. 248), "an apotropaic 
offering" (p. 251), "nodal point" (p. 266), '"divus lesus radiatus" (p. 359), 
"hieratic" (p. 359), and "comminution" (p. 375). 

A problem encountered by the reviewer was not only that helpful material 
was reserved for endnotes but also that some of the interpretive gems were 
found there. Since five hundred and seventy-nine notes are found in the 
book, there was a constant paging from text to notes and back to text again. 
The temptation was to resist the trouble but the value of the notes caused 
that temptation to be overcome. 

One must not let these problems outweigh the great merit of this book. It 
is a gold mine for the reader who desires to pursue the argument of the gospel 
from the standpoint of the best of present-day scholarship. From internal 
evidence, Bruce concludes that the source of this gospel is the beloved disciple, 
best identified as John, the son of Zebedee. He argues that the background of 
the writer's use of Xoyoc, is found not in Greek philosophy but in Hebrew 
thought where it "denotes God in action, especially in creation, revelation 
and deliverance" (p. 29), which three works characterize the Jesus of the 
fourth gospel. An interesting observation is contained in a note on 1:2 about 
Jesus being the One who was with God from the beginning. Bruce postulates 
that this might be the answer of John to the question of who is with God in 


Gen 1:26 as well as the rhetorical question of Isa 44:24 (p. 64). Evangelicals 
will appreciate the author's awareness of, and emphasis upon, the deity of 
Christ as presented by John. 

A different approach is found in the interpretation of 2:6-8 in which 
Bruce concludes that the servants drew six jars of water and set those aside 
and then drew from the well the water that was turned to wine. The pericope 
of the woman caught in adultery is not included in the comments on chapter 
eight but is considered in an appendix. 

The author's knowledge of historical backgrounds is evident throughout 
the work. The comments on chap. 19 are so vivid that the reviewer felt that 
he had been transported back over nineteen centuries and was present at the 
trials and crucifixion of Jesus. Bruce, however, does not use his expertise 
simply to take the reader back in history but returns him to the twentieth 
century with helpful applications. 

A number of unfortunate printing errors are evident. On p. 10, line 6, 
"tht" should be "that"; on p. 74, line 16, the first "is" should be "in"; on 
p. 104, line 18 of text, "strange" should be "stranger"; on p. 217, the transla- 
tion of 9:26, 27 has "need" instead of "heed"; the comma in line 7 of the 
comments on 1 1:51, 52 on p. 251 should be a period and the first three lines 
of notes on page 327 are not indented properly. 

In conclusion, this commentary is superior to many because of its style, 
thematic development and scholarly input. It is a commentary which begs to 
be read rather than used only as a resource. The owner will find himself 
turning continually to it in a study of John's gospel. It is not only a book for 
every pastor but should receive a wide reading from a large segment of the 
Christian community. Every church library should have a copy for use by 
those not fortunate enough to have their own. 

Ronald T. Clutter 
Grace Theological Seminary 

New Testament Exegesis: A Handbook for Students and Pastors, by Gordon D. 
Fee. Philadelphia: Westminster, 1983. Pp. 154. $8.95. Paper. 

In a day when the inerrancy of Scripture is the focal point of study and 
discussion, it may be easy to forget about the exegesis of Scripture. Granted, 
inerrancy relates to the basic nature of Scripture and cannot be minimized in 
any way. Yet those who have the highest views of the nature and authority of 
Scripture should be the first to emphasize exegesis. If the Bible is the Chris- 
tian's sole authority, then proper exegesis must receive high priority. Gordon 
Fee has written an important book in which he has "tried to provide ... a 
guide to all the steps necessary to do good exegesis" (p. 13). Pastors, teachers, 
and students should be greatly helped by this guidebook. 

In the preface Fee points out that his book fills a void. Other works on 
NT interpretation are rather general and theoretical, whereas Fee attempts to 
write a step-by-step "how to" manual. He laments the existence of a gap 
between grammatical identification ("what kind of genitive" — p. 12, cf. p. 77) 


and the actual uncovering of a text's meaning. His book is meant to bridge 
this gap with a workable exegetical method for all types of NT literature. It is 
intended to serve as a companion volume to D. Stuart's Old Testament 
Exegesis (Philadelphia: Westminster, 1980). 

The format of the book is a little complicated. After the preface comes a 
lengthy Analytical Table of Contents. This is followed by a brief introduction 
defining exegesis and explaining how the book should be used. After this 
come the four main chapters: I. Short Guide for Full Exegesis, II. Exegesis 
and the Original Text, III. Short Guide for Sermon Exegesis, and IV. Exe- 
gesis Aids and Resources. The first chapter is a brief overview of the whole 
exegetical process and the second chapter provides further details "which 
must be worked in at various points" (p. 51) of chap. 1. This aspect of 
the format could have been explained more clearly. While the first two chap- 
ters are designed to show students a method for writing an academic exegeti- 
cal paper, the third chapter provides a methodology for sermon preparation. 
Fee believes that a good expository sermon can be prepared in ten hours, five 
hours each for exegesis and sermonizing. He is to be commended for this 
chapter, as well as his articulation of its rationale: "The sermon, as an act of 
obedience and worship, ought not to wrap shoddy scholarship in a cloak of 
fervency. Let your sermon be exciting, but let it be in every way faithful to 
God's revelation" (p. 117). The final chapter is also very profitable as an 
annotated, classified bibliography of tools for exegesis. 

In many ways this is an excellent book. It certainly does help to fill a 
large void in the literature on NT study. The typesetting is flawless, based on 
my reading. Fee is quick to recommend other sources which augment his own 
treatment of various issues. His overall philosophy of hermeneutics is also 
helpful in that he urges reading a NT book through as a whole before attempt- 
ing to analyze the parts (p. 28). This vital insight reminds one of E. D. Hirsch's 
discussion of the heuristic approach to a text's intrinsic genre ( Validity in 
Interpretation [New Haven: Yale University, 1967], pp. 68-126). Fee is even 
candid enough with the reader to caution against "overexegesis" of certain 
facts or grammatical points (pp. 39, 81). 

Perhaps the two most helpful sections of the book, aside from the overall 
methodology outlined in it, are those on structural analysis and how to use 
various tools. The material on structural analysis shows how to construct a 
"sentence flow" rather than a diagram (pp. 60-77). Here is an extremely 
profitable approach for analyzing what holds a text together. Fee recommends 
starting from the upper left hand corner of a blank page and arranging the 
flow of a text by writing it out with indentation and subordination of its 
details. Those like myself who practice this method can testify to its many 
benefits in displaying schematically the flow of a passage, of Scripture. Second, 
Fee's instructions on the use of various tools are invaluable. Such tools are 
rather forboding to many students. Fee helps students through a step-by-step 
approach to such standard tools as BAGD (pp. 87-89), an original language 
concordance (pp. 92-93), and a synopsis of the gospels (pp. 101-9). Such 
tools are just as valuable for expository preaching as they are for academic 


There are a few areas of weakness in the book — surprisingly few in a 
book so innovative and new. The format is somewhat confusing and could be 
better explained. Fee's identification of the locusts of Rev 9:7-1 1 as invading 
barbarian hordes (p. 43) is hardly convincing, especially in a section which 
advises against allegorically pressing all the details of a passage. The section 
on establishing the range of meanings for a word (p. 85) is helpful but does 
not stress sufficiently a synchronic (immediate context) approach over a dia- 
chronic (history of a word) approach. It should be noted, though, that Fee 
properly cautions against a "derivation happy" approach to word studies 
(p. 83). One wishes that he had applied similar cautions to the use of TDNT 
(p. 91) since some weaknesses in TDNT's method of lexicography have been 
pointed out by J. Barr and others. 

Two matters in the section on the gospels also need to be mentioned. 
First, Fee assumes the Markan priority view of synoptic literary interrelation- 
ship (p. 37). This is not a problem in itself, for some working hypothesis 
needs to be determined. The problem is that this increasingly doubted 
hypothesis is allowed to play such a large part in the exegetical method. The 
assumption that Matthew used Mark (pp. 105, 114-15) is elevated from 
educated guess to assured fact as the exegetical process is worked out. It 
would have been better to show how the other possible hypotheses affect 
exegesis. Another approach would be to show how to exegete the gospels as 
individual documents. A second concern for gospel exegesis is Fee's uncertain 
stance on the historical contexts of at least some of Jesus' sayings. Evidently 
Fee believes that the historical and geographical settings of some pericopes in 
the gospels do not correspond to the original historical facts (pp. 36-37, 40, 
49, 94, 116). The point at issue here is not a literary topical arrangement 
instead of strict chronological ordering of events. This is granted since the 
gospels do not always claim to present events chronologically. The issue is 
whether, when the gospels speak about matters of time, history, geography, 
etc., what is said corresponds to historical fact. If one of the gospels asserts 
that A happened in the city of B, then one must take that as the original 
historical context. Perhaps I am misreading Fee's view at this point, but the 
relationship of history and theology in the gospels is such a crucial issue 
today that it is necessary to raise this question. 

As noted previously, one of the strengths of the book is its recommenda- 
tion of other sources for exegesis. However, I would like to recommend some 
others to supplement Fee's list. The section on textual criticism could be 
augmented by the recently published work of H. Sturz, The Byzantine Text 
Type and New Testament Textual Criticism (Nashville: Nelson, 1984). The 
section on sentence flow would be complemented by W. Kaiser, Toward an 
Exegetical Theology (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1981), pp. 87-104, 165-81, and 
G. Osborne and S. Woodward, Handbook for Bible Study (Grand Rapids: 
Baker, 1979), pp. 50-66. The section on grammar could add the recently 
published time-saving index by T. Owings, A Cumulative Index to New Testa- 
ment Greek Grammars (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1984). The section on lexical 
aids would be improved by some works on semantics and linguistics, most 
notably J. P. Louw's Semantics of New Testament Greek (Philadelphia: 
Fortress, 1982) and M. Silva's Biblical Words and Their Meanings (Grand 


Rapids: Zondervan, 1983). Finally, the section on biblical theology could also 
include some of the works on the theology of the synoptic gospels. 

This review must conclude on a very positive note. Fee has done a great 
service to pastors, teachers, and students. While one can find points of minor 
disagreement on some particulars, there can be no debate that biblical exegesis 
is a crucial priority. The publication of this book makes available some fine 
instruction on "how to do it." Those of us who are responsible for doing it 
are now even more accountable to handle the Word accurately. 

David L. Turner 
Grace Theological Seminary 

The Christology of Mark's Gospel, by Jack Dean Kingsbury. Philadelphia: 
Fortress, 1983. Pp. 203. $19.95. 

One might wonder why there should be another book on Marcan chris- 
tology. Jack D. Kingsbury, Aubrey Lee Brooks Professor of Biblical Theology 
at Union Seminary in Virginia, is aware that this subject has garnered con- 
siderable scholarly attention in the past decades and that such a study may 
appear an "untimely" venture (p. ix). However, in his volume The Christology 
of Mark's Gospel, he probes the christology of Mark, via the literary-critical 
method, in consideration of the motif of the secret of Jesus' identity. He 
offers a detailed investigation of the story of Mark with the history of Marcan 
research in this century as a backdrop. He first evaluates the question of the 
secret of Jesus' identity from Wrede to the present. He rejects Wrede's view 
of the "Messianic Secret" and then espouses his own version (chap. 1). He 
then investigates the christology of Mark in keeping with the motif of the 
secret of Jesus' identity and concludes that the secret is not found in titles 
such as "Messiah" or "Son of David" or even "Son of Man" but rather in the 
designation "Son of God" (chap. 3). 

Kingsbury begins his work with a very helpful survey of the history of 
the "Messianic Secret" beginning with W. Wrede's major work Das Messias- 
geheimnis in den Evangelien (1901). According to Wrede, Mark wrote a life 
of Jesus in such a fashion that he gave a messianic cast to the non-messianic 
traditions by presenting the earthly Jesus as one who was intent on keeping 
his messiahship a secret (p. 4). However, as Kingsbury rightly notes, this view 
did not go without criticism, A. Schweitzer being the leader of the attack. Of 
course Wrede's view was also greeted with negative criticism from most British 
scholars, among them W. Sanday, T. W. Manson, and S. Neill (pp. 5-6). 
However, there were those such as Bultmann, Dibeljus, and Ebeling who 
adopted Wrede's position and regarded Mark as a literary writer in whose 
gospel the secret of Jesus' identity burst forth in "secret epiphanies" (p. 8). 
However, what became problematic for most critics, according to Kingsbury, 
was the comprehensive scope Wrede and followers gave to the motif of 
"secrecy." Hence by the mid-1970s most recognized that Wrede's theory was 
overdrawn and while the "Messianic Secret" was an important motif, it was 
not the sole motif but only one among several (p. 1 1). 


The most important segment of Kingsbury's historical survey is his 
interaction with Heikki Raisanen's monograph Das "Messiasgeheimnis" im 
Markusevangelium (1976). Raisanen proposed that Mark did not successfully 
hold in tension both the "Messianic Secret" and the public disclosure of Jesus 
as Messiah. Thus, Raisanen views Mark as a transmitter of traditions through 
which he put together a story with cross purposes (pp. 12-13). Kingsbury 
attempts to dismantle this view by assuming, after a rather brief discussion, 
that the nature of the "secret" in Mark is not "messianic" in Wrede's terms. 
Rather the secret centers on Jesus' identity as "Son of God" (pp. 13-15). 
Such a shift certainly affects Kingsbury's judgment of the cogency of 
Raisanen's arguments. Kingsbury seems to assume from the beginning the 
viability of a "secret" motif. Thus it is necessary, in his response, to qualify 
the apparent "contradictions" that Raisanen proposes to such a motif. For 
example, Raisanen notes that if a "messianic secret" is a legitimate literary 
device, then Mark 9:9 is contradicted by 15:39. In 9:9 Jesus stipulates that at 
the resurrection the "secret" will no longer be in force, while in 15:34 at the 
crucifixion the centurion blatantly violates this stipulation by declaring Jesus 
is the Son of God. Kingsbury's response is that the words of 9:9 "are in no 
wise tantamount to the dictum that no character whatsoever in Mark's story 
will be permitted to comprehend that Jesus is the Son of God prior to the 
resurrection" (p. 16). Yet one wonders why a writer such as Mark would have 
allowed this to happen (assuming Mark is employing the "secret" motif), 
particularly since Kingsbury presents him as one who, in a very sophisticated 
fashion, employed a variety of other devices to safeguard the integrity of the 
secret (cf. p. 22). Nevertheless, Kingsbury rejects Raisanen's arguments as less 
than compelling and thus proposes that the main christological theme in 
Mark's gospel is the "secret" that Jesus is the Son of God (p. 21). 

Kingsbury also rejects any view of Marcan christology that is "corrective" 
in nature (chap. 2). He surveys the view of a "corrective christology" whereby 
the purported, defective title "Son of God" (growing out of a Beioc; dvf|p 
tradition) is corrected with "Son of Man" to stress the theology of "the cross" 
and "suffering" (cf. pp. 25-33). Kingsbury properly criticizes any connection 
between a hellenistic divine man and the title "Son of God" (pp. 34-35). 
Instead he would prefer to see the title as growing out of an OT background 
and related traditions (pp. 37, 40). A cardinal problem with a "corrective 
christology," according to Kingsbury, is that Mark presents the Father as 
giving Jesus the title "Son of God" at the climax of the prologue (1:11). 
If the "corrective" view is correct, one would have to say that Mark has 
allowed the father to give an "evaluative point of view" that is defective 
(pp.42, 71). Kingsbury thus concludes correctly that one's hermeneutical 
approach to Marcan christology should be along literary-critical lines rather 
than tradition-critical lines ( pp. 44-45), i.e., one should allow Mark's 
christology to emerge from the text rather than superimpose some "divine 
man" concept. 

The heart of the volume is chap. 3 in which Kingsbury applies the 
literary-critical method to the story of Mark (pp. 47-155). His goal is "to 
explore the christology of Mark with an eye to the motif of the secret of 
Jesus' identity" (p. 52). A feature that is important in this discussion is what 


Kingsbury calls the "ideological (evaluative) point of view" (p. 47). According 
to Kingsbury, God's evaluative point of view is "normative" and both Jesus 
and Mark as narrator align their evaluative point of view with it (p. 50). 
Mark records God's evaluation of Jesus in 1:11 in which Jesus is called "my 
beloved Son." This title (along with "Son of David" and "King of Israel") is 
clearly messianic; Kingsbury bases such a connection upon the critical reading 
of 1:1 (p. 55). Throughout the opening section (1:1-13) Mark gives the reader 
a correct view of Jesus. However, in the following segments of his gospel he 
gives a more "elaborate" portrayal of what it means for Jesus to be the 
Messiah, Son of God (p. 71). 

Mark does this in 1:14-8:26 through several means according to Kings- 
bury. First, he presents Jesus as one who, as a miracle worker and healer/ 
exorcist, attained great fame. Consequently, principal characters question his 
identity — the Jewish people (1:27), the Jewish authorities (2:7), the disciples 
(4:41), Jesus' family, relatives, and acquaintances (6:3; cf. p. 81). Second, 
Kingsbury argues that Mark portrays in a "contrapuntal pattern" the accurate 
"evaluative point of view" of the demons that Jesus is the Son of God (1:24; 
3:11; 5:7) (cf. pp. 86-88). Thus, human ignorance and demonic (suppressed) 
knowledge are juxtaposed. Furthermore, when human characters attempt to 
identify Jesus, they are incorrect (p. 89). As Kingsbury states, "But if these 
are the popular 'evaluative points of view' (i.e., John the Baptizer, Elijah 
redivivus) Jesus has evoked, the reader of Mark's story knows better: the 
demons, whose knowledge of Jesus has not gone out, have nevertheless 
steadily reminded him that Jesus is in truth the royal Son of God" (p. 89). 

Kingsbury argues that Mark shifts his literary pattern in 8:27-16:8 from 
that of demonic disclosure to human disclosure whereby he depicts the pro- 
gressive unveiling of Jesus' identity (p. 90). This progression moves from 
Peter's confession that Jesus is Messiah (8:29) to Bartimaeus's appeal to him 
as the Son of David (10:47-48) and to the climactic disclosure by the cen- 
turion that Jesus is the Son of God (15:39). One might argue that such 
affirmations "break" the secret of Jesus' identity. However, according to 
Kingsbury, although these examples of "insight" may be correct, they are still 
"insufficient" (p. 91). This of course assumes that "Son of God" alone is the 
sufficient title for Jesus' true identity in Mark's gospel. Yet when one reads 
the confession of Peter in 8:27f. there is no evidence of insufficiency in the 
title Xpiax6(;. In fact, the exhortation by Jesus to suppress this insight sug- 
gests its accuracy (8:30). It is also interesting that Matthew interprets this 
confession oiX^xaioq as being God's evaluative point of view (cf. Matt 16:17) 
and thus certainly not "insufficient." However, Kingsbury must interpret the 
confession as insufficient because his presupposed scheme of the "Son of God 
secret" demands it. Kingsbury is obliged to qualify every episode in which a 
messianic title is uttered as "insufficient insight." For example, he states that 
Bartimaeus's confession that Jesus is the Son of David (10:46-52) likewise is 
insufficient though correct (p. 108). He attempts to demonstrate this by con- 
necting the episode to the question about David's son in which Jesus quotes 
Ps 110:1 (12:35-37). Jesus asks the question: How is it possible for the 
Messiah to be both the "son" of David and the "lord" of David? Kingsbury 
says that the anticipated answer is this: "The Messiah is the 'son' of David 


because he is descended from David; by the same token, the Messiah is also 
the 'lord' of David because, as the Son of God, he is of higher station and 
authority than David" (pp. 112-13). Thus Kingsbury has called Bartimaeus's 
confession insufficient by appealing to Jesus' OT citation which "suggests" 
that "Son of God" is an even greater title. It could be questioned, however, 
does this not break the secret of Jesus' identity? Kingsbury himself admits 
that the OT quotation asks the reader to infer that Jesus is "more than merely 
the Son of David: he is also the Son of God" (p. 1 14). 

I would argue that, although Kingsbury's analysis is insightful and effec- 
tively presented, his hypothesis of a "Son of God secret" dies the death of 
multiple qualifications. He presupposes a scheme and is then forced to qualify 
every christological confession as "insufficient" that does not fit the hypothe- 
sis. Furthermore, if Kingsbury is correct, then Mark must have been a brilliant 
writer who consciously and successfully wove a complex of threads into a 
beautiful literary work, the dominant theme being a "Son of God" secret. 
However, one feature at least suggests this is not accurate and it is an issue 
which Kingsbury never fully addresses or takes seriously, namely, the problem 
of Mark 9:9 and 15:39. 

Mark 9:9 states that the "secret" of Jesus' identity would be revealed 
after the resurrection (particularly to the disciples) whereas in 15:39 the cen- 
turion confesses Jesus as the "Son of God" prior to the resurrection. 
Furthermore, Mark does not portray the disciples as ever ascertaining Jesus' 
identity. Kingsbury says that Mark would have his readers project certain 
things about the post-resurrection gathering, namely, that the disciples at last 
penetrate the secret of Jesus' identity (p. 136). Is one to assume, therefore, 
that such a sophisticated writer who has successfully unfolded a "Son of God 
secret" for 15 chapters would suddenly leave the reader hanging after explicitly 
stating in 9:9 that the disciples would learn of Jesus' identity? Why does one 
have to project beyond chap. 16? Why does not Mark unveil the major theme 
of his gospel? Also why would Mark allow the true identity of Jesus to come 
from a Roman centurion without further elaboration? As the narrative stands, 
he is the only human being who understands the true identity of Jesus, if 
Kingsbury's hypothesis is correct. These questions leave the reviewer with the 
feeling that, although persuasive at points, Kingsbury's thesis is too elaborate 
and, like Wrede's, overdrawn. Kingsbury feels that the value of such a thesis 
narrationally is that the motif of the secret is "a device for showing how 
'human thinking' about Jesus is, under God's direction, brought into align- 
ment with 'divine thinking'" (p. 141). Theologically, the purpose of the "sec- 
ret" motif is "to invite readers to appropriate for themselves that 'thinking' 
about Jesus which places them 'in alignment' with God's 'thinking' about 
Jesus" (p. 141). As good as this sounds, it expects, on the part of the reader, 
as much sophistication as Mark possessed (if not more). At least Mark knew, 
according to Kingsbury's thesis, what he was doing, whereas the reader must 
discern not only what Mark is doing in his narrative but why he is doing it. 
Furthermore, if Mark's narrational and theological purpose is what Kings- 
bury suggests, one wonders to whom the secret is focused. The characters of 
Mark's gospel, from the Jewish leaders to the disciples never are portrayed as 


understanding Jesus' true identity; instead, only the centurion becomes aware 
of Jesus as the Messiah Son of God. If the reader is the object of the secret, 
as Kingsbury impHes (p. 141), then Mark has let the cat out of the bag in the 
first verse of the gospel (1:1). Rather than the "Son of God secret'' being the 
motif, a better description of the motif might be the "Son of God disclosure." 

Perhaps we would be on safer ground simply to say that the motif of the 
"secrecy of the Son of God" is one of several identifications that emerge in 
the gospel, all of which are intended to give a full-orbed portrayal of Jesus' 
identity. It is interesting, however, when evaluating the variety of messianic 
titles Mark employs, Kingsbury chooses not to include "Son of Man" in such 
a category. 

In chap. 4 Kingsbury evaluates the title "Son of Man" and concludes 
that it is not a messianic title but instead may be defined as "the title of 
majesty by means of which Jesus refers to himself 'in public' or in view of the 
'public' (or 'world') in order to point to himself as 'the man,' or 'the human 
being'" (p. 168). The phrase is not associated with Messiah in Mark's gospel 
at all. Furthermore, Kingsbury asserts that "the absence of 'the Son of Man' 
from the predication formulas of Mark's narrative is an exceedingly strong 
indication that, again, Mark does not use this term to specify 'who Jesus is'" 
(p. 164). The purpose for demonstrating this is to show that the revelation of 
Jesus as Son of Man early in the narrative in no way infringes upon the 
"secret" of Jesus' identity (cf. 2:10; 2:28). Rather the "majestic" title is "public" 
and focuses attention on Jesus' interaction with the "world," an interaction 
that highlights the themes of "conflict" and "vindication" (pp. 170-71). While 
Kingsbury is possibly correct in asserting that the title is not a messianic title 
in Mark, he does not successfully explain why Jesus chose to employ this 
particular title. He does not refer to any of the contemporary Jewish 
Apocalyptic material in which there is the clear interplay between Son of 
Man and Messiah (cf. 2 Esdras 13; 2 Apoc. Bar. 29:3; 30:1; 39:7; 40:1, 3; 70:9; 
72:2). In these writings we find that the transcendent figure of the Son of 
Man takes upon himself traits associated with the Messiah, and the traditional 
Jewish figure of Messiah assumes characteristics belonging to the Son of 
Man. Also, Kingsbury only refers to Dan 7:13 in one sentence and says that 
the text is "echoed" in the title uttered by Jesus (p. 173). 

Kingsbury is to be commended for a very thorough evaluation of the 
textual data of Mark's gospel and his exegetical insight is frequently very 
good. He is keenly aware of the issues surrounding the study of Marcan 
christology and interacts well with the major literature on the subject. The 
work is well documented and includes a good bibliography. It is well written 
and includes summaries at the end of each chapter which help the reader as 
Kingsbury develops his thesis. Although I cannot embrace all of Kingsbury's 
thesis regarding a "Son of God" secret, he has done a commendable job of 
surfacing a very important christological theme in Mark, namely, Jesus the 
Messiah, Son of God. 

Tracy L. Howard 
Grace Theological Seminary 


New Testament Exposition: From Text to Sermon, by Walter L. Liefeld. 
Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1984. Pp. 180. $10.95. 

Building the bridge from text to sermon is one of the most difficult tasks 
the contemporary preacher faces. The expositor finds himself at times shifting 
toward one of two extremes. The first extreme is that of unloading the results 
of his exegesis on the audience so that the text sits lifeless in front of the 
listener without any practical bearing on his/her life. The other extreme is to 
focus so much on the contemporary needs of the audience that there is little if 
any connection between the application he is giving and the text which he is 
supposed to be unfolding. Liefeld has attempted to walk with the preacher 
across the bridge which leads him from exegesis to preaching the text so that 
personal needs are met. He exhorts the preacher to handle the Word of God 
with integrity yet also pleads for a conscious and sensitive effort to take the 
truth and apply it to the lives of people. 

Liefeld begins by building a convincing case for the necessity of exposi- 
tory preaching, outlining both its importance and features. He suggests that 
the expository message consists of three essential elements: (1) it conveys the 
basic message of a biblical passage faithfully; (2) it communicates the message 
well, using a structure and features that are appropriate both to the passage 
and to the setting and goals of the sermon; and (3) it meets the real needs of 
the congregation in a way consistent with the purpose and function of the 
passage in its original life setting (p. 24). According to Liefeld, all three 
criteria should be present and thus any attempt to preach which lacks any 
one of these will fall short of the task of good expository preaching (p. 25). 

The second major section of the volume is called "Preparing the Text." 
In it the author describes the principles and process of exegesis. Liefeld's 
approach, however, is different from what one finds in most exegetical hand- 
books. Frequently, the impression one receives in his exegetical training is 
that exegesis is almost an end in itself; namely, that the exegetical process is 
performed with the sole goal of deriving the proper interpretation of the text. 
Yet Liefeld sets forth the exegetical process with the sermon as the ultimate 
goal. He shows the reader how to avoid the exegetical tangents which can 
take enormous amounts of time and energy — selectivity in exegesis is stressed. 
According to Liefeld, one should focus on the most significant items for 
exegetical study such as doctrinally and ethically important features, texts 
difficult to understand, major themes, hinge passages, and texts dependent on 
the literary form (pp. 40-43). 

One of the most helpful parts of the section on "Preparing the Text" is 
the discussion of exegetical outlining in which Liefeld shows how to construct 
a structural outline of a passage. He proposes the method of block dia- 
gramming as a way to lay out the text so that one can see the main and 
subordinate clauses as well as the sequence of ideas (pp. 50-54). Other valu- 
able subjects are included in this section of the volume such as a discussion of 
narrative and compositional patterns (one will find much of this information 
similar to that in Robert Traina's Methodical Bible Study). He also discusses 
semantic patterns and includes important principles for the study of words 
along with necessary cautions. 


Perhaps the most important contribution of the book is found in the 
third section called "Applying the Text." Few exegetical handbooks even 
move to this stage and yet this is the culmination of the exegetical process. 
Hence Liefeld's presentation is quite crucial. He begins this section with a 
discussion of "determining the application." He reminds the reader that the 
full meaning of any applicational principle must be derived from and clearly 
seen in the context of the biblical passage (p. 95). Furthermore, Liefeld 
delineates several helpful steps to ensure a proper connection between the 
application and text. In his analysis of the form of the sermon, he shows that 
one passage of Scripture (he uses Rom 5:1-11) may yield several different 
homiletical outlines, each of which is faithful to the text, and yet applied in a 
distinctive way (pp. 127-32). This reminds the reader that there is not neces- 
sarily a paradigm sermon outline for a text but rather that a dynamic occurs 
in preparation as one thinks through the purpose of the sermon in light of the 
needs of the congregation. 

A very helpful chapter is devoted to preaching from difficult or con- 
troversial texts which should prove valuable to the pastor who struggles with 
how to preach narrative texts, parables, miracle stories, or obscure texts. 
With regard to parables, for example, he points out that the preacher should 
draw the congregation into the life situation of the parable so completely that 
they will identify with the ethical and moral issues involved and then make a 
decision with respect to their own lives (p. 138). 

The person who is engaged in the awesome task of proclaiming God's 
truth to people who have real spiritual needs will find Liefeld's work extremely 
helpful. The book is not focused only on the theoretical but there is the 
consistent application of the discussion to texts of the NT. Liefeld is well 
informed of current works in the areas of exegetical method and homiletics. 
He has included a helpful, though brief, bibliography for those who desire 
further discussions on both of these areas. The book is nicely laid out with 
clear subdivisions for easy reading. One only wishes that the author's purpose 
was more clearly stated initially, perhaps in the preface. One is left on his 
own to ascertain it as he moves through the book. However, it is not difficult 
to see where the author is headed after reading the early chapters. Although 
one will not agree with all of the specifics that Liefeld has presented, it would 
appear that he has accomplished his goal of demonstrating how to build the 
bridge from the exegesis of a text to proclaiming its truth, and for this the 
author is to be commended. 

Tracy L. Howard 
Grace Theological Seminary 

The Message of Philippians, by Alec Motyer. Downers Grove: Inter-Varsity, 
1984. Pp. 234. $6.95. Paper. 

According to the book's preface, The Bible Speaks Today series sets out 
to fulfill a threefold ideal: "to expound the biblical text with accuracy, to 
relate it to contemporary life, and to be readable." Alec Motyer's The Message 


of Philippians has admirably met these ideals. It is a model of clarity and 
conciseness, dealing with all the important details yet never losing sight of the 
forest for the trees. Offering a more succinct and less technical explanation of 
the letter than is to be found in other recent commentaries (such as those by 
J. F. Collange and G. F. Hawthorne), Motyer's work admirably conveys the 
exegetical, theological, and pastoral richness of the letter, and will be of 
invaluable pastoral service to the church. 

The exegesis of the book displays sound biblical sense but does not 
pretend to offer an in-depth analysis of either the text or introductory matters. 
Paul's Roman imprisonment is accepted as the place of composition (see the 
helpful appendix, "Where Paul Wrote Philippians," pp. 230-34) and the date 
of the letter is given as subsequent to a.d. 59 (whatever length of time is 
required for the communications between Paul and the Philippians to take 
place, p. 234). The circumstances of the founding of the church on Paul's 
second missionary journey are also discussed (pp. 11-17). Strangely satisfying 
was the absence of the usual emphasis upon the theme of joy. Instead, Motyer 
envisions a threefold theme in Philippians: (1) the unity of the church, (2) the 
reality of the attack upon the church by her enemies, and (3) the expected 
return of the Lord of the church (pp. 18-23). While these three emphases 
intertwine to form the theme of the letter, the unifying factor is not any one 
of them but rather the person of Jesus Christ, who is found to be sufficient in 
every circumstance of life. Only as he is the Lord of the Christian's past, 
present and future, can there be any joy in one's life (p. 23). 

Many other points of commendation could be noted. Although written 
primarily for the layman, helpful notes are provided on a variety of impor- 
tant Greek words (all transliterated) including "saint" (pp. 1-2), "peace" 
(pp. 29-30), "apostle" (pp. 35-37), "deacon" (pp. 37-39), "knowledge" (pp. 
56-57), "citizenship" (p. 93), "walk" (p. 181), and many others. The book also 
contains expert analyses of such topics as the assurance of the believer 
(pp. 42-50), the equal desirability of life and death (pp. 87-91), and the 
person and ministry of Timothy as a model for church leaders (pp. 137-41). 
These and other topical discussions are sure to be of interest and help to the 
pastor and the concerned layman. 

Matters of criticism, all somewhat minor, must also be mentioned, how- 
ever. The author fails to discuss the question of the integrity of Philippians 
and gives only a brief treatment of Paul's Philippian opponents and their 
possible influence upon the Philippian congregation (pp. 183-86). Those of 
us who are used to referring to Martin, Collange and now Hawthorne have 
come to expect a greater awareness of these problem areas than this author 
reveals. On specific passages, Motyer sometimes (though rarely) shows a one- 
sidedness for a view while overlooking other possible interpretations. For 
example, Motyer takes the expression "work out your own salvation" in 2:12 
to refer to the Christian's individual responsibility to see that his own spiritual 
growth continues ("Mr responsibility for me,'" p. 127). This interpretation 
overlooks the possibility that the command may have a corporate application 
and that "salvation" may refer to the total heahh of the church which was 
being sorely tested by rivalries and petty squabbles. Surely this latter view of 
2:12 could have been taken more seriously. 


In the treacherous waters of Phil 2:5-11, Motyer displays an incisive 
grasp of many of the critical issues involved (see, e.g., his excellent discussion 
of the kenosis on pp. 112-13). Unfortunately, however, he is non-committal 
on the important question of whether the hymn in 2:6-11 was composed 
by Paul or taken over by him as a paradosis from some early Christian 
(or pagan!) source. Since the meaning of the passage is necessarily bound 
up with its origin, this neglect is serious indeed. Does the hymn function 
as a pattern for Christian behavior or as a drama of redemption which 
merely tells the Philippians how they came to be "in Christ" (Kasemann)? 
In my view, many of these issues could be resolved if the possibility of 
Pauline authorship were not so quickly rejected or called into question. 
Acknowledgement of the hymnodic and stylistic form of these verses does 
not necessitate denying that they are authentically Pauline, since the apostle 
himself could have written them for use on an occasion quite apart from 
his correspondence with the Philippians. Certainly the apostle was capable 
of a poetic and exalted style where it would serve the immediate purpose 
(cf. Rom 8:31-39; 1 Corinthians 13). The existence of such "studied" pericopes 
in the Pauline corpus does not automatically preclude Pauline authorship, 
especially not in Philippians where strophic symmetry is so common, as for 
instance in 2:1-4 (see my study, "A Formal Analysis of Philippians 2:1-4," 
JETS [forthcoming]). Nothing in 2:1-11 suggests that Paul is making use 
of the words of another author, nor is there any evidence of a now lost 
Urschrift. Therefore, perhaps Motyer should have been more willing to grant 
to the apostle the authorship of a hymn which reflects a genius he obviously 

A final word of criticism is one which applies to many recent publica- 
tions. The absence of subject, author, and Scripture indexes puts the reader 
at a great disadvantage if he seeks to use the commentary as a reference tool. 
This oversight can easily be corrected in future editions, however. 

These criticisms notwithstanding, however, both author and publisher 
are to be congratulated for a very fine work. Concise and compact, it crowds 
into a small space a wealth of information. The book spoke most plainly to 
me at the personal level. The reader seeking purely technical information 
from this commentary should be prepared to make frequent pauses for reflec- 
tion and meditation. It is indeed a pleasure to recommend this valuable work 
to the readers of GTJ. 

David Alan Black 

Practical Truths From the Pastoral Epistles, by Eugene Stock. Reprint; Grand 
Rapids: Kregel, 1983. Pp. 352. $12.95. 

Eugene Stock will forever be the friend of the pastor who is preaching 
through the pastoral epistles. In the foreword, Warren Wiersbe says, "I know 
of no book on pastoral theology, based on the pastoral epistles, that contains 
more solid scholarship, more practical application and is more of a delight to 


Stock sifts through 1 Timothy, 2 Timothy and Titus using a grid of 
biblical theology. By the author's own admission, his work is not primarily 
homiletical or expositional but rather follows the design of true biblical 

The Book is not a commentary. It does not take the epistles chapter by chapter 
nor comment on them verse by verse. The treatment is topical. After some 
introductory remarks I take up the various doctrinal, ecclesiastical and ethical 
topics to which the epistles refer. 

The reader will find identifiable biographical, geographical, lexical and theo- 
logical strands. The busy pastor who wishes to be thorough in his preparation 
for preaching will find this volume invaluable reading prior to beginning his 
series. It will give him a foundational sense of all that Paul communicated 
from his heart to Titus and Timothy. 

The author is thoroughly conservative and fundamental in his approach 
to Scripture. He takes a high view of the Bible as evidenced by his statement, 
"Are we then justified in speaking of the Bible as 'the Word of God'? I for 
one hold that we are. The 66 books which make up the one book are the 
casket which contains the treasure of God's revelations to men; and those 
revelations are 'the Word of God.'" He is equally as clear on the majesty 
of God, the deity of Christ and other basic doctrines. 

The chapters are usually of equal value. Several stand out, however. 
Chap. 40 on good works (pp. 254-60) brilliantly outlines the relationship of 
faith and salvation to the fruit which results from that salvation. The author 
is careful to point out that on this point Paul and James agree. The weakest 
section in this reviewer's opinion is chap. 24 on baptism (pp. 150-56). The 
author is not at all clear on whether he supports or denies infant baptism and 
what relation that has to true salvation. It raises more questions than it 
answers. This is an exception to the otherwise clear treatment of subjects. 

This helpful work needs to be used in conjunction with several good exe- 
getical/ expositional commentaries. In so doing, individual passages covered 
by the commentary can be illuminated by the overview provided by Stock's 
work. It is not the author's intent to discuss problem passages in detail, and 
the reader should not expect this. He gives a reasonable overview but is not 
definitive in his argumentation for or against a particular solution. 

There are several deficiencies which could easily be corrected by the 
publisher. First, although several indexes are provided (the most helpful of 
which are Biblical Names and Greek Words), there is no Scripture index. It 
would be of inestimable value for the busy pastor as he studies through a 
specific passage such as 2 Tim 3:16-17 to be able to look into a Scripture 
index and see where Stock's major discussion of that passage lies. Second, it 
would have been helpful if the publisher had added to Stock's bibliography 
(he died in 1928) an update on some of the more recent, helpful commen- 
taries of the last several decades. This would greatly enhance the book's 
profit and usability for today's pastor. 

I think there are a number of areas in which the reader of this helpful 
tool can learn apart from the content of the book itself. First, the reader can 
learn from the author's methodology following the route of biblical theology. 


It magnifies the value of getting a feel for the author's mind by reading what 
he has to say on a certain subject. The value of word studies is obvious in 
Stock's approach. Second, today's pastor can learn from the author's care for 
detail. He meticulously searches the Scripture for any helpful insight. Finally, 
one can learn from the author's labor and enhance it with one's own studies 
prompted through the use of his book. I highly commend Eugene Stock's 
Practical Truths From the Pastoral Epistles to today's busy pastor. 

Richard Mayhue 
Long Beach, CA 

/« Defense of Theology, by Gordon Haddon Clark. Milford, MI: Mott Media, 
1984."Pp. 122. $12.95. 

The basic purpose of this book is commendable. In fact, in the light of 
the contemporary disdain for theology on the part of many Christians in 
America, the purpose is praiseworthy. I wish this review could stop here for 
this book will not help the cause of challenging Christians to be involved in 
theological investigation; it could hurt the cause. Gordon Clark is a highly 
regarded and gifted Christian thinker who for many years has been a blessing 
to the body of Christ. Because of this, I expected great things from this small 
book. Instead, I was disappointed. 

First of all, a book must be judged in the light of its purpose. Clark 
wishes that Christians who ignore theology would be motivated by this book 
to pursue its study. He seeks to accomplish this goal through demonstrating 
the approach of three groups who lack concern for theological study: (1) the 
"good average Christians" who do little but move about in indifference or 
who proclaim "no creed but Christ," (2) the atheist who holds theology "in 
secular contempt," and (3) the neo-orthodox thinker who also holds theology 
in contempt. The failure of the book becomes evident when Clark emphasizes 
his desire to reach the first group with his message, but a chapter of only 
seven pages is given for a discussion and evaluation of this group. In com- 
parison, fourteen pages are given over to a consideration of atheism and 
agnosticism and the presentation on neo-orthodoxy consists of twenty-four 
pages! It can be insisted that an awareness of the arguments of atheism and 
neo-orthodoxy causes one to see the need of developing his own theology. 
However, the person who is going to read about atheism and neo-orthodoxy 
has demonstrated by that act an interest in theology. 

Clark's book is the product of an outstanding philosophical thinker 
who is dedicated to getting the Christian populace to think logically. In fact, 
the better title for this book would be. In Defense of Logic, for that is the 
nature of the book. Atheism and neo-orthodoxy are criticized continually for 
being illogical. The longest chapter of the book, thirty-two pages, is con- 
cerned with the development of logic. It is at this point that the fear is raised 
that this book could be counterproductive. The average Christian reader, if 
he has bothered to continue this far (which probably will not be the case), 
likely will go no farther. "If this is theology," he might say, "you can have it." 


A better approach for encouraging the indifferent Christian to study 
theology would be to turn to Scripture texts which clearly demonstrate the 
need for understanding Bible doctrine. The pastoral epistles are full of such 
teaching. Jesus' ministry was one of teaching and challenging people with the 
message he brought from the Father. All Christian living must rest upon the 
foundation of biblical truth. 

The negativism expressed thus far is not meant to imply that this book 
has no value. The assessments of atheism and neo-orthodoxy are helpful. 
Some of Clark's declarations are challenging and insightful. However, the 
ones who will use this book the most and derive the greatest benefit from it 
are those who do not need to have the pursuit of theology defended. 

Ronald T. Clutter 
Grace Theological Seminary 

Tensions in Contemporary Theology, edited by Stanley N. Gundry and Alan F. 
Johnson. Second Edition. Grand Rapids: Baker, 1983. Pp. 478. $12.95. Paper. 

This scholarly, well-edited volume presents a no nonsense introduction 
to the world of contemporary theology. The book opens in the Foreword by 
Roger Nicole with a brief defense of the Christian's need to be familiar with 
modern theological trends. This is followed by a Preface by editors Gundry 
and Johnson which provides general comments and an overview of the work. 

Chaps. 1 and 2, by Bernard Ramm and Vernon Grounds, respectively, 
are viewed as introductory essays by the editors (p. 10). Ramm's survey of the 
major development in critical thought from the Enlightenment to Bultmann 
reminds the reader how well-read the author is on this subject. While these 
trends are masterfully presented, one gets the impression that Ramm's treat- 
ment is too brief and sweeping. 

Grounds discusses the work of four major twentieth century theologians 
— Bultmann, Teilhard, Bonhoeffer and Tillich. His emphasis is on their 
thought and influence in recent decades. However, approximately half of this 
essay is made up of quotations which, while useful, display too few of the 
author's own comments. Both Ramm and Grounds offer only weak critiques 
of their subject matters. 

Chaps. 3-9 are termed the "specific focus of the book" (p. 10). Stanley 
Obitts authored the initial chapter in this group on the subject of religious 
language in the current philosophical debate. This essay is technical (as 
warned by the editors on p. 11) and comprehensive, presenting a good apolo- 
getic for meaningful religious language which should satisfy even the contem- 
porary empiricist. 

Harold Kuhn wrote chap. 4 on the subject of secular theology. He surveys 
the major practitioners of both "God is dead" theology and the less radical 
theists who, nevertheless, express some similar sentiments. Kuhn provides 
meaningful insights into and good critiques of the movement. 

Chap. 5 investigates the popular theology of hope. David Scaer has 
written a detailed account of the major theologians in this school of thought. 


although he virtually ignores some of Pannenburg's apologetics (an aspect 
which characterizes much of Pannenburg's system). While one can appreciate 
the detailed analysis in this chapter, the critiques are fairly weak. 

Process thought is the subject of chap. 6, which was written by Norman 
Geisler. Like the essay by Obitts, this selection is also technical and detailed, 
considering a wide range of panentheistic options. Geisler's chapter also con- 
tains one of the best critiques, including both positive and negative elements. 

David Wells' work on contemporary Roman Catholic trends (chap. 7) is 
a welcome subject for this book, primarily because it includes material which 
is unknown to most evangelical Protestants and otherwise largely ignored. 
Although this chapter somewhat ignores major Catholic theologians such as 
Rahner and Kung, it is very informative and includes a noteworthy critique. 

Harvie Conn's two chapters on liberation theology (chaps. 8, 9) were 
originally added to the 1979 edition and total over 100 pages. Conn offers 
numerous insights and a very stimulating interaction with and critique of 
liberation theology. However, the selections are too long, given the size of the 
volume. Perhaps summaries could have been utilized to consolidate the 

This book ends with a hard-hitting conservative corrective to contem- 
porary critical theology (chap. 10) written by Harold O. J. Brown. This essay 
contains numerous thought-provoking reflections concerning the need for a 
biblical corrective which contains some backbone and evangelical "bite." In 
spite of the heavy reliance on Reformed thinkers in this selection, this is 
unquestionably a challenging conclusion to an excellent volume. 

Several general comments are now in order. There are additional strengths 
besides those mentioned above. All of the contributors to this volume are 
major evangelical thinkers who are well-known through their publications 
and their attendance at society meetings and other scholarly events. Each of 
these persons wrote in an area of his expertise (p. 9). Additionally, a variety 
of ecclesiastical traditions was included in this volume (at least five different 
denominational graduate schools were represented). Also noteworthy is the 
fact that this volume is one of comparatively few scholarly volumes produced 
by evangelicals on the subject of contemporary theology in spite of its impor- 
tance. Lastly, most of the essays contain strong critiques and the volume ends 
with a powerful plea for conservative thinking. This plea is as important as 
any other single element in this work. 

A couple of weaknesses need to be addressed, however. The volume left 
out such important topics as the New Quest for the Historical Jesus and 
Heilsgeschichte thought. In fact, only the chapter on hope theology represents 
any of the important post-Bultmannian groups which are so influential in 
contemporary western European theology. Even one chapter on such trends 
would have been very helpful. And some will surely object to the editor's 
statement that Barth "did not produce theologies in the sixties and seventies" 
(p. 1 1). Admittedly, all subjects cannot be treated in a volume of this nature, 
but the omission of these when two chapters have been given to liberation 
theology is questionable. 

Additionally, while the editors state several times that the inclusion of a 
critique in each chapter is important (pp. 9-11), a few chapters ignored any 


kind of a major critical response. This deficiency is significant, especially 
when the book is addressed largely to students (p. 10). If the conservative 
option is correct (see chap. 10, p. 438, for instance), then critiques are indis- 

This volume was produced chiefly to be an introductory textbook for 
upper levels of college or for graduate school, keeping other interested persons 
(such as pastors) in mind as well (p. 10). It is this reviewer's opinion that this 
is perhaps the best evangelical book on the market for that purpose. It is a 
most noteworthy contribution to contemporary theology and is highly recom- 
mended as a textbook in this area. In fact, reviewing the book caused this 
writer to decide to use it for his graduate level courses in contemporary 

Gary R. Habermas 
Liberty Baptist College and Graduate School 

Metaphysics: Constructing a World View, by William Hasker. Downers 
Grove: InterVarsity, 1983. Pp. 132. $4.95. Paper. 

This volume by William Hasker, Professor of Philosophy at Huntington 
College, is another in the "Contours of Christian Philosophy" series edited by 
C. Stephen Davis. It joins other books on the subjects of Epistemology and 
Ethics, as well as a projected volume on Philosophy of Religion. After an 
Introduction. Metaphysics is divided into four additional chapters which treat 
major issues in this area of philosophy, followed by a brief Epilog. There is 
no doubt that the questions raised in each of the chapters address areas of 
critical concern not only for the philosopher but also for the theologian. 

In the Introduction, Hasker notes major questions in metaphysics, 
sets forth some guidelines for answers, and ends by listing three criteria 
for evaluating theories. In these last two sections there are both strong 
and weak points. The criteria of factual adequacy (correspondence), logical 
consistency (coherence) and explanatory power are excellent indicators of 
truth (pp. 25-28). However, I found the statement that "philosophical asser- 
tions can't be based on religious authority" (pp. 22-23) — including Scripture 
(p. 116) — to be quite objectionable. If Scripture is established as a reliable 
source by any of several possible approaches, what precludes using it as such? 
Just as problematical is the apparent separation between theological beliefs 
and philosophical reasons for those beliefs (p. 24). 

Chap. 2 is concerned with "Freedom and Necessity" and moves from 
several key definitions to treatments of compatibilism, determinism, free will, 
and a section on the relevance of this issue to the theological subject of pre- 
destination and foreknowledge. Although treading through explosive issues, 
this chapter is quite readable and provides a good overview, including cri- 
tiques, of each position. Although not everyone will agree (even with each 
other!) with the conclusions concerning these volatile subjects, Hasker places 
the chief options before his readers and defends well, as an example of a 
practical application of philosophical truth, the theological position favoring 


In chap. 3 the subject is "Minds and Bodies." There is a discussion of 
behaviorism, ideahsm, duahsm, emergentism and the subject of immortahty 
or resurrection of the body. Hasker again sets the most popular alternatives 
before his audience in a readable fashion, favoring emergentism. However, 1 
was somewhat distressed by the treatment of emergentism in that, while it is 
interesting and a possible solution, it is extremely inconclusive, particularly in 
that it virtually ignores an important portion of the first criterion proposed in 
chap. 1, namely, factual correspondence (p. 26). While it is possible that 
emergentism fits some of the facts, is internally coherent and somewhat 
explanatory, its lack of external evidence renders it quite questionable. Even 
Hasker admits that strong scientific evidence has not been supplied (p. 74) 
and that evidence might even have to come from other areas (pp. 75-76). 

Chap. 4 deals with the nature of the world and the realism-idealism 
debate in particular, but also includes treatments of common sense realism, 
instrumentalism and a brief discussion of cosmology. This chapter is one of 
the best and is a very readable presentation of a much ignored but increasingly 
important subject due to the recent findings of modern physics. Hasker's 
major conclusion, given the brief space allotted, is a well-reasoned defense of 
"scientific realism." 

In the fifth and final chapter the subject is "God and the World," featur- 
ing discussions on the relationship between God and metaphysics and assess- 
ments of naturalism, pantheism, panentheism (process theology), and theism. 
One problem with this chapter is that, with the exception of one paragraph 
on cosmology, very little was given as an apologetic for theism. Therefore, in 
spite of Hasker's statements that philosophers base belief on good reasons 
(p. 18), that God is the most important subject of metaphysics (pp. 120-21), 
and that dogmatism has no place in philosophy (pp. 22-23), it appeared that 
this last section was more of a statement than an argument. However, even a 
brief presentation of reasons why theism is the proper system (pp. 120-21) 
surely would have strengthened the chapter, as Hasker himself seems to note 
(p. 106). In a final Epilog, Hasker summarizes several of the most important 
themes of the book, including the centrality of God, the creation of the 
world, and man as created in God's image. 

Positively, this work is written in a refreshingly non-technical and read- 
able style, which will greatly facilitate its study by students and lay persons 
alike. Another commendable feature is the wide use of definitions, if only as 
introductory grounds (p. 60). The book is quite brief for the nature of the 
subject, as Hasker points out (pp. 17, 85), which means that numerous sub- 
jects had to be left out (pp. 52, 62, 69, 106, 107). Yet a surprising number of 
options are entertained, each treated both cautiously and courteously. Lastly, 
Hasker is humble with regard to his work (pp. 25, 120), which is surely an 

Two other points might also be mentioned briefly. Sometimes it appeared 
that the chapters were out of order. Should not God's existence be discussed 
before freedom of the will, eternal life, or the nature of creation? The present 
order, whether intentional or unintentional, reminds one of Kant's meta- 
physics. It also seemed that Hasker was so cautious at certain points that he 
neglected to side very strongly with a clearly superior theory. 


Hasker's "primary purpose" in writing this book is that it might be used 
as a supplemental philosophy textbook (Preface). I believe that it could be 
quite useful in this regard, especially as one of a couple of texts for a course 
in metaphysics. Few books are available on this specific topic and one from a 
Christian perspective is certainly noteworthy. Although 1 have mentioned 
several areas of concern, some of which I believe are substantial, these are 
actually few when one remembers not only the controversial nature of this 
subject but also, as Hasker notes, that so much is open to challenge in the 
field of philosophy (p. 20)! 

Gary R. Habermas 
Liberty Baptist College and Graduate School 

Spirituality and Human Emotion, by Robert C. Roberts. Grand Rapids: 
Eerdmans, 1982. Pp. 134. $5.95. Paper. 

Roberts represents himself as "a philosophy teacher by trade, and a 
Christian by profession." Both assertions are attested by the contents of this 
book. He practices his trade as Associate Professor of Philosophy at Western 
Kentucky University, and has written this book for the purpose of arguing 
that, in addition to other things, Christianity involves a set of emotions. 
These emotions are character qualities which should be cultivated by every 

In response to modern man's alienation from Christianity, Roberts rejects 
those theological approaches which attempt to reinterpret or demythologize 
Christianity and prefers an approach involving a reinterpretation of ourselves. 
What modern men need is not a new explanation of the Christian faith but "a 
reordering of our passions and attitudes" in conformity with Christianity 
(p. 8). A Christian leader's task is therefore viewed as therapeutic in con- 
formity with some traditions in which a pastor is called a "curate" (French, 

In contrast with some common conceptions of emotions, Roberts views 
them as construals or "ways of 'seeing' ourselves and our world that grow out 
of concerns of one sort or another." Christian emotions, then, are determined 
by one's way of viewing Christian concepts and are thus, to a large extent, 
within his control (p. 1 1). 

Chap. 2, titled "Emotion and the Fruit of the Spirit," elaborates by 
identifying an emotion as a construal of one's circumstances in a manner 
relevant to some concerns (p. 15). "Passions" are those concerns "which, in 
any given personality, rank higher in the order of the individual's cares 
. . . over relatively long stretches of his life" (p. 19). To change an emotion 
one must change his view of the situation. "This is why belief is not enough 
for spirituality. Christians must not only believe, but must learn to attend to 
the things of God" (p. 24). 

In chap. 3 Roberts argues that Christian emotions are "concerned ways 
of viewing things through the 'lenses' of Christian teaching." The starting 
point for changing one's emotions is to focus on the Christian truth that this 


present life is not the whole story. The Christian's roots must be placed firmly 
in eternity, not in the present soil of this life alone (p. 38). 

Chap. 4 refutes the contention of some philosophers that an acceptance 
of morality (a willingness to face death with equanimity) is adequate to 
overcome selfishness and egocentricity. In contrast, the Christian's concerns 
focus on God's triumph over death and sin; that is, both life and eternal 
righteousness in spite of death. 

Chap. 5 focuses on "Humility as a Moral Project." Here a comprehension 
of the unmerited grace of Christianity is viewed as the best foundation for 
engendering this basic Christian virtue. 

The final three chapters discuss gratitude, hope, and compassion. One 
will not find here any secret keys or steps to spirituality — just thoughtful 
consideration of Christian virtues and helpful Christian exercises. 

This book is to be highly commended as thought provoking and devo- 
tional in its impact. My complaints are quite minor and not worthy of dis- 
cussion in a short review. Only one observation, a stylistic concern, is worth 
mentioning: as a sign of this age Roberts has chosen to use feminine pronouns 
in most of those instances of illustration and argumentation where masculine 
pronouns have been traditionally employed. This is merely a distraction, 
however, and does not substantially detract from the profitable argumenta- 
tion of the book. 

Charles R. Smith 
Grace Theological Seminary 

Reincarnation vs. Resurrection, by John Snyder. Chicago: Moody, 1984. 
Pp. 110. $4.95. Paper. 

John Snyder immediately gains the attention of his readers by citing a 
recent poll to the effect that at least one-fourth of all Americans now believe 
in reincarnation, and that it "may soon become the most commonly accepted 
theory of the afterlife in America," especially among college students (p. 13). 

But why is this so? Because materialism has created a great vacuum 
which cannot long continue. People long to be told they are important, and 
that there is some purpose and hope in life. At the same time, they reject as 
abhorrent "the prospect of giving account to an infinite, personal God who 
has the power to cast people into eternal separation" (p. 14). Furthermore, 
"reincarnation appeals to human pride by teaching that one's final destiny is 
determined by one's own works and efforts," and it is thus "especially alluring 
to our sinful nature" (p. 14). Snyder sadly concludes, "reincarnation is an 
idea whose time has come" (p. 15). 

What is reincarnation? The ancient Hindu/ Buddhist concept assumed 
that all reality is essentially one, and that human souls are like drops of water 
separated temporarily from the ocean (i.e., the impersonal cosmic spirit or 
world principle called Brahman) which flow back into it like a mighty river. 
Therefore, "souls" may migrate from one form of existence to another. The 
ancient Greeks held to a similar view called metempsychosis. 


The popular American version of reincarnation limits itself to the belief 
that people have existed previously in other human bodies (p. 19). The pre- 
existence of souls, an idea held by a few church fathers and ancient rabbis, is 
not to be confused with this view. "Reincarnation is the consecutive move- 
ment of the soul from one bodily, human life to another for the purpose of 
working its way back to its original home, oneness with the universe — a point 
at which all incarnation ceases and all bodily and material existence is a thing 
of the past" (p. 20). 

Karma, evolutionism, optimism, monism, and the innate "immortality" 
of the soul (apart from the personal, infinite God) are the foundation stones 
of this relatively new American religious philosophy which came originally 
from the Orient. But what is Karma"? It is the doctrine that some impersonal 
process or force in the universe guarantees, with computer-like efficiency, 
that every person will get exactly what he deserves — in another life — on the 
basis of his works in this life (pp. 20-21). 

But what does Karma want us to do? No one knows! And where do we 
find the strength to do it? There is none available! 

In the final analysis, then. Karma is not (a) benevolent distributer of justice . . . 
but is rather a malignant force that turns on us and becomes a cruel task- 
master. . . . The buildup of Karmic debt is so great as to be unpayable. ... It 
constitutes a doctrine of sin without grace, of transgression without pardon 
[pp. 22, 90]. 

Western popularizers attempt to soften the blow with generous doses of 
cosmic evolutionism, general optimism, the essential goodness of the human 
spirit, and monism (all is God, and we will someday be reunited with this 

In chap. 2, Snyder cites two case studies from Ian Stevenson, Twenty 
Cases of Reincarnation (1966), that typify the so-called evidence for reincar- 
nation. One took place in Holland during World War II and another in India 
in the 1960s. Both involved deep awareness of the intricate details of another 
person's life without previous knowlege. This is considered to be evidence for 
retrocognition (memory of a previous life on earth). But Snyder demonstrates 
that this involves the false assumption that cognition involves presence (p. 29), 
i.e., the false assumption that the person who thus "remembers" another 
person was not only present with him but actually was that person. In one of 
the cases presented by Stevenson, a man had "retrocognition" of two separate 
persons living within his own lifetime. This contradicts the basic doctrine of 

But how can these strange cases be explained? Snyder concludes that 
they are psychic phenomena which have no connection whatsoever with 
retrocognition. "At present, psychic knowledge is not even partially under- 
stood or explained, but it is clear that whatever its nature, it cannot bear the 
evidential weight placed upon it by the enthusiastic proponents of reincarna- 
tion" (p. 34). Demonic deception is not excluded as a possible explanation 
(pp. 40-41), and out-of-the-body experiences are rejected as unconvincing 
and "at best inconclusive" (p. 44). 

Do reincarnationists appeal to the Bible for support? Yes! But Snyder 
adequately demonstrates the fallacies of their appeals to Job 1:20-21 ("naked 


shall I return"). Matt 17:1-13 ("He himself is Elijah"), John 3:3 ("born 
again"), John 9:1-3 ("who sinned?"). Gal 6:7 ("whatsoever a man sows"), Jer 
1:45 ("before I formed you in the womb I knew you"), and Melchizedek 
(Genesis 14, Psalm 1 10, Hebrews 7). 

However, the author is at his best theologically when he insists that "in 
the end, arguing with reincarnationists over this or that isolated text misses 
the main point, for the total conceptual world of the New Testament is far 
removed from that of reincarnationists" (p. 59). The NT teaches pure divine 
grace based on the merits of Christ's substitutionary death while reincarna- 
tionists teach that, 

one can pay off one's "Karmic debt," thereby securing a better position in the 
next life, by working hard in this life. Salvation (if one may call it that) is a 
reward for one's own efforts. . . . Furthermore, the theory of reincarnation has 
an implicit contempt for incarnation since it views the body as essentially evil. 
The believer's ultimate goal is a state of nonincarnation, or life without a body 
[pp. 59-60]. 

It is clear, then, that reincarnationists have an implicit contempt for the 
incarnation of God's Son. Further, their view of the ultimate goal of the 
believer is tantamount to a final loss of identity. 

The book concludes with clear statements of the nature of Christ's resur- 
rection body (pp. 61-62), the once-for-all significance of this life (pp. 62-63), 
and the vital relation between creation and resurrection (pp. 64-65). 

Weaknesses in the book are generally apologetic in nature. For example, 
Snyder ultimately bases his confidence in the resurrection of Christ — not on 
the self-authenticating Word of God, but rather on historic, literary and 
rationalistic inferences (pp. 67-72). The existence of demons is likewise deter- 
mined by the reasoning of "a careful person" as opposed to "the incautious 
person" (p. 41). The optimistic philosophy of American reincarnationists is 
erroneous because "this rosy view of future prospects is entirely unrelated to 
human experience" (p. 23). 

Snyder's rationalistic apologetic brings him to the precipice of theological 
heresy when he attempts to cope with the problem of people who have never 
heard the gospel. On the basis of Acts 10:1, he states: 

One may infer from this that God has plans and strategies for making the gospel 
known to the single, obscure person in the backwaters of the world who is 
responsive to the many and hidden ways He uses to communicate with His 
creatures. . . . The history of missions abounds with examples of how the most 
unreached peoples on earth have exhibited profound awareness of the God who 
in the New Testament is intimately described and revealed through Jesus Christ 
[p. 98]. 

This reviewer believes that these concepts are unbiblical and dangerous. 

More ludicrous than dangerous, perhaps, is Snyder's response to the 
cyclical view of nature which reincarnationists point to as evidence for their 
world life view: 

When history is studied within the framework of "salvation history," one finds 
that the seasons begin to play an intriguing role in its interpretation. God's 
interventions in history. His principal acts of deliverance, often occur in the 


springtime. God seems to reserve the most important moments of His deliverance 
for that time of the year when Hfe, color, beauty, and warmth surge out of the 
earth almost as a surprise after a bleak and bitter winter [p. 105]. 

The stranglehold of pagan religions and philosophies in many parts of the 
world today calls for a far more radically biblical confrontation than this! 

In spite of his generally rationalistic apologetic system, the author makes 
some statements that are biblically straightforward; e.g., "For Christians it is 
enough that He [Christ], and He alone, should be the final word on life and 
death, even if every other human being on earth disagreed with Him" (p. 93). 
Again, to shift to a reincarnationist position "would not be changing course; 
it would be changing ships. Eventually, it would not be simply changing 
views on the world; it would be changing worlds" (p. 78). And finally, "belief 
in reincarnation is never simply a conclusion based on facts; it is first and 
foremost a decision of faith" (p. 33). 

John Snyder graciously calls the reader's attention to another recent and 
excellent critique of this deadly system by Mark Albrecht (Reincarnation: A 
Christian Appraisal [Dov/ners Grove: InterVarsity, 1982]). It is the reviewer's 
prayer that these two popular, introductory, and inexpensive books may alert 
God's people everywhere to the horrible alternatives to biblical Christianity 
which Satan is placing before the peoples of the world today, including 

John C. Whitcomb* 
Grace Theological Seminary 

*The reviewer appreciates the kind assistance of Dr. S. Wayne Beaver and 
Mr. Raju Kunjummen in preparing this review. 

Biblical Authority: A Critique of the Rogers/ McKim Proposal, by John D. 
Woodbridge. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1982. Pp. 237. $8.95. Paper. 

John Woodbridge has assembled an admirable critique of Rogers and 
McKim's treatise. The Authority and Interpretation of the Bible. With 142 
pages of text and 73 pages of fine-print endnotes this church historian at 
Trinity Evangelical Divinity School has exposed the salient problems of the 
Rogers/ McKim proposal as "an attempt to find historical precedents for the 
belief that the Bible's infallibility extends to matters of faith and practice (but 
not to matters of history and science)" (p. 142). Woodbridge provides ample 
evidence to show that although they claim to "set the record straight" (p. 15), 
they have misused the historical data. 

After a refreshing rebuke of contemporary Christians' infatuation with 
the statistics of pollsters (p. 13), the author briefly outlines the genesis of his 
critique (pp. 15-18). At the climax of this brief introduction he clearly states 
his thesis: "I trust that this essay will serve to encourage many Americans 
who already affirm the Bible's complete infallibility. They should know that 
they are not the proponents of a quirkish new doctrine" (p. 18). 


Chap. 1 is foundational. It begins with the recognition of a prevalent 
appetite for corroboration of doctrines from church history: 

From the patristic fathers in the early church, to Luther and other Reformers in 
the sixteenth century, to French Reformed pastors in the seventeenth. Christian 
theologians have tended to associate doctrinal innovation with heresy. ... In a 
similar vein some Evangelicals today believe that their own views on biblical 
authority will gain more credence in the evangelical community if they can 
demonstrate that these views have deep and sturdy roots in the rich soil of 
church history [p. 19]. 

The author intimates that this motivation stands behind the work of Rogers 
and McKim (and undoubtedly it stands behind his own critique as well). The 
remainder of his critique is dedicated to the task of showing that Rogers and 
McKim did not properly demonstrate that their proposal has precedence in 

Prior to a survey of significant periods for bibliology in church history, 
Woodbridge enumerates and briefly comments upon "the larger methodolog- 
ical problems" (p. 23) of the Rogers/ McKim volume. Ten are mentioned: 
(1) "The Overly Generous Title" of their volume (p. 23), (2) "The Apologetic 
Cast" of their study (pp. 23-24), (3) "The Arbitrary Selection of Data" 
(p. 24), (4) "The Doubtful Documentation" (p. 24), (5) "The Limiting Optic 
of the Authors' Concerns" (pp. 24-25), (6) "The Propensity for Facile Label- 
ing" (p. 25), (7) "The Inappropriate 'Historical Disjunctions'" (pp. 25-26), 
(8) "The Dated Models of Conceptualization" (pp. 26-27), (9) "The Con- 
fusing Infallibility vs. Inerrancy Motif" (pp. 27-28), and (10) "The Dubious 
Presuppositions Concerning the History of Science" (pp. 28-30). Numbers 3, 
6, and 9 are, I think, especially significant. 

It is unfortunate that Woodbridge's first substantial challenge to Rogers 
and McKim's arbitrary selection of data is tucked away in a footnote: 

Why does one thinker represent the "church's position" whereas another 
does not? Does a majority opinion among Christians signify the central tradi- 
tion, or do the clerics and university professors who draw up confessions and 
treatises on Scripture serve as the determining agents for that tradition? The 
criteria by which a historian designates his or her representatives for any 
doctrinal development should be carefully explicated. Rogers and McKim fail to 
establish carefully those criteria and thereby leave themselves open to the charge 
of selecting arbitrarily their representatives and data. Even when the authors 
treat Reformed "traditions," they are quite arbitrary in their selection procedure. 
For example, French Reformed Christians receive relatively little notice com- 
pared to the lavish commentary upon the English Puritans, the American 
Princetonians, and the later Berkouwer [pp. 158-59]. 

In reference to the author's sixth methodological challenge. 

Facile labels have all the trappings of false concreteness. Rogers and McKim's 
consistent use of such labels harks back to an outmoded method of doing 
intellectual history, when historians grouped individuals from different ages 
together without sufficient regard for the different cultural contexts in which 
their subjects lived. Facile labeling is often a short cut for doing careful historical 
research. A label with little specificity does not greatly aid us in understanding 


the richness of an individual's theology, its evolution or devolution in time, or 
its meaning when placed against the social, intellectual, and cultural tapestry of 
a particular age [p. 25]. 


Rogers and McKim argue that the Bible is infallible but that this does not 
mean that it is "inerrant." . . . The authors offer to us an "infallible" but "tech- 
nically errant" Bible. "Errors" crop up especially in its historical, geographical, 
and scientific domains. How an infallible "message" (delimited to "faith and 
practice" issues) is carried by an errant text, Rogers and McKim never fully 
explain [pp. 27-28]. 

It is obvious that neither they nor any of the other limited inerrantists "afford 
us with much explicit guidance concerning the criteria by which we may sort 
out 'salvation truths' from the Scriptures" (p. 154). 

"The Patristic Period and Middle Ages" is the historical period examined 
in chap. 2. Woodbridge challenges Rogers and McKim's selective use of 
secondary sources (e.g., p. 34; cf. his fourth methodological challenge on 
p. 24); however, in this particular chapter the author himself periodically 
gravitates to this unfortunate modus operandi. It is not only justifiable but 
necessary to use secondary sources in demonstrating how they were misused; 
but Woodbridge himself should always have used the primary sources. Never- 
theless, the author adequately demonstrates that in the patristic period "the 
Fathers apparently concurred that God is the primary author of Holy Scrip- 
ture" and that they "generally assumed that because God is the author of 
truth. His Word cannot mislead or deceive in any way (whether in salvation 
truth, or in historical, 'scientific,' or geographical detail)" (p. 31). Further- 
more, "If the Fathers did not give any particular emphasis to the term 
'inerrancy,' they undoubtedly expressed the content denoted by the word" 
(Woodbridge, quoting Bromiley, p. 165). In reference to the middle ages, the 
author acknowledges his limitations (p. 47), but offers some helpful data 
supplied by his colleague Rodney Peterson (cf. n. 63, pp. 171-72). 

In chap. 3 on Luther and Calvin he surveys the salient data while evalu- 
ating Rogers and McKim's interpretation thereof. Rogers and McKim are 
challenged for omitting a survey of Anabaptist thought (p. 49). They also 
failed to convey "an overall context with which to understand the Reformers' 
thought" (p. 49). Woodbridge 's primary criticism, that their presentation of 
the historical data is subjective, involves the absence of mention of Luther 
and Calvin's plentiful assertions supporting complete biblical infallibility and 
the obvious absence of data to support the Rogers/ McKim definition of 
error (i.e., purposeful deceit). In the section entitled "Calvin and The Concept 
Of Error" (pp. 58-63), the author reminds all that a common argument is 
really a straw man: "it does not follow that because the Bible's human authors 
were not automatons in their writing of Scripture the resultant product was 
errant. Such a stance limits dramatically the power of God to protect His 
Word" (p. 59). 

In chap. 4 ("Biblical Authority in the Sixteenth and Early Seventeenth 
Centuries: Roman Catholic and Protestant Apologetics"), sufficient examples 
are given to refute one of Rogers and McKim's primary assumptions; the 
data really point to the fact that "Protestants did not intend to limit the 


extent of infallibility by describing the Bible as an 'infallible rule of faith and 
practice'" (p. 76). 

Chap. 5 is dedicated to answering the question, "What was the nature of 
the first significant attacks against complete biblical infallibility during and 
after the Reformation?" (p. 85). To the embarrassment of Rogers and McKim 
is Woodbridge's reminder that they avoid the complexity of the historical 
background of this question. Furthermore, he emphasizes that "despite these 
significant and worrisome attacks upon the Bible's infallibility, it is doubtless 
safe to say that the vast majority of Europe's theologians, pastors, and leading 
church-persons still gave formal assent to that belief as the last quarter of the 
seventeenth century commenced" (p. 93). 

Chap. 6 on "Reformed Traditions in the Seventeenth Century; a Reap- 
praisal" is probably the strongest in the book and should serve as a method- 
ological paradigm for studies of this kind. By amply citing primary sources, 
several of Rogers and McKim's conclusions about this period are shown to 
be invalid. For example, Woodbridge provides evidence (pp. 104-5) that 
William Ames (The Marrow of Sacred Divinity, 1623, 1627, 1629) "apparently 
equates biblical infallibility with inerrancy" (p. 105; cf. a similar treatment of 
William Perkins on pp. 105-6). Another extremely important point made in 
this chapter (pp. 106-15) deals with Rogers' claim that "no Christian could 
have been an inerrantist until the 'scientific era' began" (p. 107). Based upon 
the substance of the Wilkins/ Ross debate it becomes obvious that Rogers has 
misinterpreted the historical data, since that important debate "underscores 
the contention that many Englishmen . . . read their infallible Bibles for 
'scientific' information before the Westminster Assembly convened. And . . . 
it reveals the tenuous character of Rogers's assumption that the Westminster 
Divines, the contemporaries of Wilkins and Ross, lived in some kind of 
prescientific era" (p. 1 10). 

Rogers' contention that "Scripture is the Word of God because man 
finds the saving gospel of Jesus Christ there" (cited by Woodbridge on p. 1 13), 
Woodbridge shows, is mistaken in light of the historical data from this period. 
Through the citing of primary data from the works of Westminster Divine 
William Gouge, the author has shown that 

Gouge does not fit Rogers's characterization of the Westminster Divines' 
beliefs. . . . Rather, for Gouge, the Bible is the Word of God because God is its 
author. Rogers indicates that the Bible is infallible for its effect; Gouge says that 
the Word is true in regard to its author, matter, and effect. A sifting through the 
writings of other Westminster Divines makes it clear that Gouge was not alone 
in these sentiments [p. 1 13]. 

Woodbridge 's reappraisal of the history of this period points to the fact that 
"it appears that when the Divines described the Bible as infallible, they pri- 
marily meant that it was 'without error'" (p. 115). The remainder of the 
chapter is dedicated to showing how Rogers and McKim misused a thesis by 
Leon M. Allison on "The Doctrine of Scripture in the Theology of John 
Calvin and Francis Turretin" (pp. 1 16-18). 

At the outset of chap. 7, "Biblical Infallibility in the Nineteenth Century; 
The Princetonians," Woodbridge challenges Rogers and McKim's circumven- 
tion of pertinent historical data; 


By generally ignoring the Enlightenment in continental Europe and the 
American Enlightenment in the Thirteen Colonies, our authors inadvertently 
create a distorted context for discussing their principal subject. The muUiple 
evidential apologetics designed by theologians and pastors to defend prophecies, 
miracles, and the inspiration and infallibility of the Bible against the hard hitting 
rhetoric and arguments of deists, Socinians, libertines, infidels, and atheists, are 
largely forgotten [p. 1 19]. 

Also in this chapter, the author builds upon previous evidence which he has 
put forth to show that arguments against inerrancy relying on the distinction 
between the original autographs and extant copies were not late innovations, 
as Rogers and McKim regularly suggest (pp. 126-34). Indeed, "the attempts 
of Rogers and McKim and others to isolate Princetonians as reactionary and 
lonely defenders of complete biblical infallibility becomes less than convinc- 
ing when placed against the broad sweep of European and American Chris- 
tianity in the nineteenth century" (p. 125; cf. other strong conclusions based 
upon the historical evidence, e.g., pp. 139-40). 

Chap. 8 on "The Shaping of the Rogers/ McKim Proposal" is both 
a summary of the major weaknesses of their proposal along with some 
suggestions as to who and what had influenced their thinking. Woodbridge 
defines their place in the critical mosaic (pp. 141-46), as he sees it, and iden- 
tifies the men who stand philosophically in the background of their mindset 
(pp. 146-51), primarily Barth and "deutero"-Berkouwer (pp. 146-48). 

The author rests his case in the conclusion (chap. 9, pp. 153-55): 

If Christians are to accept Rogers and McKim's proposal, they should look over 
the merchandise they are purchasing. They should understand the nature of the 
scholarship that underlies it, the kind of Bible that results from it, and the 
problem of discerning what the Bible's real authority might be under the 
proposal [p. 153]. 

Woodbridge's critique of their proposal may be described as informative, 
refreshing, credible, and fair, but, by his own admission, it is not exhaustive. 
So, at crucial Junctures in his footnotes he has pointed the reader to other 
sources which adequately answer the critical questions raised by Rogers and 
McKim. Quite frequently the author refers to the forthcoming (now pub- 
lished) work Scripture and Truth, edited by Carson and Woodbridge. Conse- 
quently, it is not out of place to label this book as an introductory companion 
volume to Scripture and Truth, an important collection of conservative essays 
on this most important topic. 

George J. Zemek 
Grace Theological Seminary 

The Churches and the American Experience, by Thomas A. Askew and 
Peter W. Spellman. Grand Rapids: Baker, 1984. Pp. 260. $9.95. 

Joe Friday would have liked this book! The Los Angeles Police Depart- 
ment detective was concerned with the facts, just the facts. Askew and Spell- 
man have packaged the essential facts of American church history together in 


an up-to-date presentation. The two chief contributions of this addition to 
the corpus of material on the subject are (1) the emphasis on the evangehcal 
tradition and (2) a special concern for an understanding of the contributions 
of the church in America in the twentieth century. 

Most writings on the history of the church in America are from a non- 
evangelical perspective. No matter how much one may attempt to write an 
unbiased account of history, the viewpoint held by the author will exert its 
influence in the selection of what is thought necessary for the presentation 
and in the elimination of what is thought to be less important. Thus, evan- 
gelical contributions have been overlooked in some works. Askew and Spell- 
man seek to correct this situation in their presentation of the impact of the 
church in American history. 

Due to the survey nature of the book, certain persons and movements 
are not developed as thoroughly as possible. The authors admit this fact and 
state in the preface what they intend to accomplish as well as what they do 
not include in their purpose. It is the social dimension — the place and impact 
of the church and its ideas in American society — which is emphasized. The 
purpose of the book is not to chronicle the development of denominations in 
this country. The intent is apparent throughout the book and, in this sense, 
the work is worthy of commendation. The correction of the misconception 
that evangelicalism functions in social isolation is appreciated. 

Not written for specialists in American church history, the book contains 
no footnotes. This lack is unfortunate for there are many direct quotes or 
references to other writings. A helpful bibliography for each chapter is 
included at the end of the book which can facilitate a search for substan- 
tiating material and/or further elaboration of a point, but such is not always 
the case. J. Edwin Orr is cited as one who hesitates to use the term "revival" 
for the ministry of Charles Finney, concluding that the results in his meetings 
were the product of manipulation. No book by Orr is listed in the bibliog- 
raphy, leaving somewhat helpless the reader who would wish further informa- 
tion from Orr. It would be an improvement for this book to include footnotes 
for those who wish to have them, recognizing that those who do not want to 
read the notes do not have to do so. The lack of footnotes keeps this reviewer 
from using, and from recommending, this book as a textbook for a course in 
American church history. 

The style of the book is commendable. While presenting essential infor- 
mation, the authors write in a manner which provokes contemplation. For 
example, the reader is made aware of the leadership of evangelical women in 
the struggle for women's rights a century ago. Though there are some great 
differences between that crusade and the one in the twentieth century, it is 
evident that some evangelical women were not of the mind that their ministry 
in life was to be a wife, child-raiser and homemaker only. The following 
statement on this subject is pointed as well as amusing: "In fact, the churches 
were the real seedbeds for women's rising consciousness. Although viewed 
before the law as a nonentity and in the professions as an intruder, in church 
a woman was all that a man was: a sinner saved by grace" (p. 95). 

The book also causes one to sense the failure of evangelicalism to relate 
to urban development and industrial advances with the resultant depersonali- 
zation of individuals. Using D. L. Moody as an example, the writers share 


how Christians "remained aloof from any discussion of the structural ills of 
society. He optimistically believed that the improvement of society would be 
effected by individual conversions" (pp. 131-32). To be sure, society is 
improved as men are persuaded with the gospel, but most are not persuaded. 
Evangelicals have left that hapless position today as evidenced by many 
crusades against pornography, abortion, and homosexuality. Why do they 
not do the same with regard to other manifestations of unrighteousness? 

There are a few questionable statements made. For example, C. I. 
Scofield's correspondence school is referred to as that which later became 
Dallas Theological Seminary (p. 151). This connection is not reported in other 
works that I have read regarding the founding of that institution. Substantia- 
tion for this claim is needed. Of J. Gresham Machen it is stated, "Rather than 
submit to denominational demands to cease supporting an alternate mission 
organization, Machen resigned from both Princeton Seminary and the Pres- 
byterian Church in the U.S.A." (p. 186). Machen left the seminary in 1929 
due to its reorganization. The Independent Board for Presbyterian Foreign 
Missions was not founded until 1933. Machen resigned from the denomina- 
tion after being suspended from the ministry in 1935. 

Most disturbing is the presentation of the influence of neo-orthodoxy. 
This movement, or approach as some would prefer to call it, differs substan- 
tially from some of the views of liberalism, as is stated in this book. However, 
it also differs greatly from the traditional evangelical stance. This latter fact is 
not made clear. It is one thing to use biblical terminology, as neo-orthodoxy 
does. It is another thing to interpret those terms in light of the Bible as a 
divinely inspired revelation from God, which neo-orthodoxy does not do. It 
is not the place of Askew and Spellman to present detailed evaluations of 
theological positions but it is a matter of concern that they do not present an 
adequate picture of neo-orthodoxy with its denials or equivocations concern- 
ing the existence of a man named Adam, the fall of that man as recorded in 
Genesis 3, the virgin birth of Jesus, and his bodily resurrection. 

In conclusion, this book will assist the reader to have a grasp of the 
essentials of the history of the church in America. It will also cause reflection 
upon the past which will assist the church to meet the needs of the future. 

Ronald T. Clutter 
Grace Theological Seminary 

History of Christianity in the Middle Ages: From the Fall of Rome to the 
Fall of Constantinople, by William Ragsdale Cannon. Reprint; Grand Rapids: 
Baker, 1983. Pp. 352. $9.95. Paper. 

The writing of a "synthetic history depicting the developing of Chris- 
tianity" (p. 7) is an enormous undertaking by any standard of measure. This 
is William Ragsdale Cannon's stated purpose as he judiciously embarks upon 
his thoroughly documented and well plotted treatise. Cannon, a Methodist 
Bishop who was Professor of Church History and Historical Theology for 26 
years at Candler School of Theology (Emory University in Atlanta, GA), sets 
forth a well-balanced and easy-to-read one-volume account of Christianity 


during the Middle Ages. He has written for the intelHgent general reader and 
the seminary student, rather than for the medieval specialist. It is pleasingly 
evident that the author has drawn upon a deep reservoir of classroom experi- 
ence as a teacher, many travels abroad, and a comprehensive familiarity with 
original sources from the Middle Ages. 

History of Christianity in the Middle Ages, first published in 1960 by 
Abingdon, is divided into twelve succinct chapters which cover the major 
historical periods from the Fall of Rome in a.d. 476 to the time of Gregory 1 
and Justinian: the beginning of the papacy and the doctrinal divisions in the 
East; the Carolingian Renaissance (756-882) and Byzantine Christianity 
(717-886); the separation of Eastern and Western Civilization (882-1081), 
better known as The Great Schism; the Gregorian Reformation, the First 
Crusade, and the flowering of Monasticism and Scholasticism; and the wide 
spectrum of so-called Christendom between the years 1 124 and 1453. Cannon 
is to be commended highly for the pedagogic structure of his book which uses 
a chronological interplay that moves back and forth between the East and 
West in each major section and makes the reader aware of the cogent connec- 
tions between those two divisions of Christendom. The author has not added 
anything new, either interpretively or factually. He should still be commended, 
however, for his competent summary of this often neglected and misunder- 
stood period of church history. 

In spite of Cannon's well-balanced and lucid portrayal of the Middle 
Ages, I must, nonetheless, set forth a few weaknesses in his treatment. Cannon 
has relied heavily upon the original sources, such as Migne and Mansi, in 
addition to important monographs in German and French, and the eight- 
volume Cambridge history. He has, however, championed an approach to 
church history which is often too rigid. His frequent synchronic perspective 
saps the life out of history as he looks at the "facts" of history and uses them 
too credulously. Thus it is now widely recognized that the deposition of 
". . . the beardless boy, Romulus Augustilus . . ." (p. 16), in 476 did not 
necessarily mark the fall of Rome but was only one of the many significant 
incidental events which led to its end. Moreover, the author consistently 
fails to reveal the vital relation of unity and order which lies behind feudalism 
and the papal struggles which were so intense at this time, as well as the 
warring spirit which existed between the popes and emperors. The author is 
also inconsistent in his use of some sources. At one place he seemingly agrees 
with Procopius in his Anecdota concerning his harsh and sour estimate of 
Justinian (p. 29). Just four pages later, however, he denounces that source as 
"a vicious attack on Justinian" (p. 33). This gives the implication that it is a 
source that ought not to be trusted. 

It is imperative to emphasize that Cannon's work displays both the 
strengths and the weaknesses of similar church histories which deal with the 
same period. He is to be complimented for his fine summarizations of the 
internal history of the church and for his display of the doctrinal develop- 
ments during these crucial centuries. Too often, however, he leaves his readers 
in ignorance of the impact that scholastic developments during the thousand 
years of the Middle Ages had upon the church. Like many similar church 
historians. Cannon seems to lack a cohesive understanding of the total scene 


of humanity during this time. For instance, Cannon never says a word con- 
cerning the earth-shattering T'ang Dynasty which ruled at this time over an 
empire as large and sophisticated as the Roman Empire at the height of its 
glory. Also, much too little information is given concerning the power of the 
Mongolian civilization and of the Ottoman Turks during this time period and 
concerning their relationship to Western Europe and Christianity as a whole. 
Nevertheless, Cannon's superb historical verification and unusually interesting 
editorial vibrancy (whereas most histories of the Middle Ages read like phone 
books) increases our appreciation for the neglected field of church history in 
the Middle Ages. 

David Samuel Slusher 
Winona Lake, IN 

Psychological Seduction: The Failure of Modern Psychology, by William 
Kirk Kilpatrick. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1983. Pp. 239. $5.95. Paper. 

An experienced psychologist offers in this book a criticism of psychology 
as a social force which influences everyday ways of thinking and acting. In 
the concluding chapter he reminds the reader that his intention in the book 
was to get at the spirit of psychology and beyond that to the climate of 
prevailing attitudes for which psychology is largely responsible (p. 225). 
Despite his intention to treat the spirit of psychology in a broad fashion and 
to critique its social force, the author's observations and conclusions deliver a 
devastating blow to the attempt to integrate the theories of psychology and 
the doctrines of the faith. When one speaks of psychology and religion as 
being competing faiths and of true Christianity not mixing well with psychol- 
ogy except at the expense of the Christian message, then one has leveled a 
serious indictment against psychology. He points out many times that 
psychology bears only a surface resemblance to Christianity. It is this which 
leads the Christian astray, for he thinks that he is really adding something 
useful only to discover that he has been unaware of a growing discrepancy 
between his Christian faith and the psychological theories. Psychology has 
derived much of its acceptability from that surface resemblance (pp. 15, 25, 
37, 84 and 179). 

"Wolf in the Fold," the title of chap. 1, is perhaps the author's lengthy 
thesis statement. He then proceeds to develop this thesis in a number of 
areas. In the second chapter he continues with the criticism that psychology, 
as well as the other social sciences, is really quite ineffective and may, in the 
final analysis, be doing more harm than good. The social sciences ride rough- 
shod over traditional values which he feels were more aligned with Christian 
standards. The question he raises is why with all the psychologists practicing 
today and with all the theories being taught today is there no appreciable 
decline in the problems with which they purport to deal, and which they are 
supposedly able to eliminate (pp. 31, 84)? 


He addresses with trepidation a common issue in the Hterature of con- 
temporary Christian psychology, namely, self-esteem (or self-worth, self-love, 
self-image, self-acceptance, self-fulfillment, etc.). He thinks that Christians 
have let their faith become tangled in a net of popular theories about self- 
esteem and self-fulfillment that are not really Christian at all (p. 14), equating 
these terms with the phrase "faith in ourselves" (p. 43). In his considered 
opinion, psychology has not taken into account the Fall and has accepted the 
doctrine of the natural goodness of man (p. 39). Christians do not always 
realize (1) that psychologists themselves are not yet agreed on the origin of 
self-image, and (2) that there is not the slightest hint in the NT of the need 
for faith in ourselves (pp. 43, 69). Certainly many theologians and careful 
readers of Scripture will agree with Kilpatrick's view. Many will also agree 
with Kilpatrick that an overserious preoccupation with the self is unhealthy 
and ultimately defeating (pp. 26, 177, 204). I am not surprised to hear him 
suggest that both evangelical and charismatic Christians have unguarded 
borders where psychological ideas easily slip over (p. 24). He tries to distin- 
guish between the wrong concepts of self-esteem and what he labels an inno- 
cent self-liking (p. 43f.). While being a little uncomfortable with the term 
Kilpatrick chose to use, this reviewer was pleased to note that place was given 
more than once to humility. The idea of humility could have been more fully 
developed with special reference to Philippians 2 and to those passages which 
speak of humbling ourselves and of having lowliness of mind. Furthermore, 
although he links man's worth with the imago dei, Kilpatrick has taken 
seriously man's depravity (pp. 74ff.) and the continuing need for change 
(pp. 39, 43). He has not left aside the holiness and the purity of God and his 
reaction to sin. This reviewer would add that none of the passages in which 
the imago dei appears permits one to apply this truth to his personal self- 
worth. Rather, the focus of the passages is upon man's relationships toward 
God, the world, and others. Each of these relationships carries certain respon- 
sibilities upon which man ought to reflect. The closing verse of Psalm 139 is a 
far better response than declarations of significance and worth or value. 

In Kilpatrick's view, psychology has led to people asking not what is 
right and wrong, but what meets their needs and what contributes to their 
self-concept. It has cut itself adrift from objective truth and thereby has 
diminished the consciousness of sin (p. 87). As he puts it, psychology's 
characteristic mentality steadfastly ignores the distinction between right and 
wrong. The theologian must, in reaction, demand of the one who attempts to 
integrate psychology and Christianity whether he has grasped the presupposi- 
tions of modern psychology. Indeed, one must ask whether the "integrationist" 
has realized that psychology spends its time judging moods and motivations, 
not acts. As Kilpatrick so rightly remarks, this is a function properly left to 
God, not man (p. 85f.). 

The author turns to the subject of moral education and observes that the 
textbooks used in Christian education are often barely distinguishable from 
those in the secular psychology classroom. In his brief critique of three 
approaches to moral education (values clarification, moral reasoning, and 
traditional or morality of character), Kilpatrick concludes that the use of the 


first two approaches undermines character development which should be 
taking place. Any nonjudgmental discussion of moral values leads to a concept 
that conduct and morality are intellectual, not moral, questions (pp. 102ff.). 
Later, in treating the subject of the secular and the sacred he refers to three 
habits of mind which interfere with psychology's ability to appreciate the 
sacred. These are subjectivism, reductionism, and naturalism. There is for 
him an obvious relationship between the secular and the sacred which the 
psychologist has destroyed. Left only with the secular, life is devoid of 
meaning and purpose and becomes solely an intense and serious consideration 
of the self. This reviewer is only sorry that Kilpatrick did not present more 
strongly and directly the sovereignty and purposes of God, the fear of God 
and the obedience to his Word for living in our world, and the vigilance 
which is ours to ensure that there is conformity to that Word. 

Kilpatrick parallels the richness and the complexity of life with a story or 
a drama. There are duties and responsibilities to be fulfilled regardless of 
circumstance and feeling. There are roles to play, expectations to be fulfilled, 
joys to be experienced, and tragedies to be endured. Sometimes a purpose 
can be perceived, but at other times that is not so. Sometimes consequences 
of actions can be known, but at other times this is not the case even when 
good is demanded and done. Kilpatrick believes that psychology has reduced 
life to the state of an abstract theory, to a dismal level wherein the richness of 
the drama is neatly side-stepped and ignored. Instead, an attitude of eternal 
vigilance about the self prevails, and manipulative terminology has effectively 
removed words such as "honor," "loyalty," "purity," "valor," and "duty," 
replacing them with words such as "needs," "naturals," and "sexuals." The 
former terms, he says, suit the drama of life and the presence of objective 
standards and truth. Psychology has replaced these good and well-founded 
values with shallow, selfish, and changing ones. Herein lies another difference: 
"the Christian message does not change, while the psychological one changes 
constantly" (p. 135). As a means of capturing attention and as a means of 
illustrating the deficiency of psychology's lifeview, the likening of life to a 
drama may be permissible. However, the author belabors the point. 

In seeking to answer the question, "Is suffering wasted?," Kilpatrick 
unfortunately allows for the very real possibility of redemptive suffering. 
Perhaps the influence of his Roman Catholic background and training sur- 
faces at this point. Perhaps, too, one could be kind and find a touch of 2 Cor 
1:3-11 and of 2 Thess 1:4-10 behind his answer and explanation. But one 
could wish for some direct application of these passages and of the message 
of the Book of Job to the important subject matter of sufferings in life. 

For all of his effort to urge the Christian reader not to conclude that 
psychology can now be safely ignored, Kilpatrick's criticisms only serve to 
urge Christians to reject psychology. Although the book is certainly not a 
theological study, it is of real interest to the theologian. When read alongside 
of Paul Vitz's, Psychology as Religion: The Cult of Self- Worship (Eerdmans, 
1977), and Paul Brownback's, The Danger of Self- Love: Re-examining a 
Popular Myth (Moody, 1982), this book will generate some questions, not 
the least of which will be, "Does psychology, in regard to the issues of heart, 
mind, and conduct, have any part to play in the life, the study, and the 


ministry of the man of God and in the Hves of those whom God has placed 
under his pastoral care?" 

Trevor Craigen 
Chateau de St. Albain, France 

The Team Concept, by Bruce Stabbert. Tacoma: Hegg Brothers, 1982. Pp. 226. 
$6.50. Paper. 

One of the challenges facing the twentieth century church is to be true to 
the teaching of the Lord and his apostles and yet be contemporary. Nowhere 
is this challenge more keenly felt than in the choice of leadership patterns. 
Bruce Stabbert's book. The Team Concept, has made a significant contribu- 
tion in this crucial area. It is a decided call to return to a plurality of elders in 
the local church. It offers a refreshing blend of sound exegesis, honest inter- 
action, and creative practicality. 

Stabbert's book rests upon two exegetical conclusions: first, that the 
term "elder," "overseer," and "pastor," are interchangeable titles describing 
different facets of the same office (chap. 1); and second, that plurality is the 
NT norm for the eldership (chaps. 2, 3). When these two conclusions merge, 
the theological and practical implications are multiple. The most obvious 
implications are that the single elder church is incomplete (pp. 93-94) and 
that a pastor-elder distinction in church polity is untenable (pp. 54-55). 

In contradiction to traditional ecclesiology, Stabbert maintains that, even 
when there is a plurality of elders, one man is not '"''the pastor." All elders are 
commissioned to pastor (shepherd) the flock (Acts 20:28, 1 Pet 5:2) and, 
therefore, share the title (pp. 7-8). All elders must meet the same qualifica- 
tions and they share the same authority and function (teaching and leading 
the church). Those elders who excel in teaching and/ or leading may be asked 
to leave other pursuits and give themselves full time to the work of the 
eldership (1 Tim 5:17). These men are salaried and Stabbert refers to them as 
"staff-elders" (p. 208). 

The reader will appreciate the gracious way that Stabbert handles his 
subject. He avoids pontificating on texts that could support either a single 
elder or plurality view. He chooses, rather, to interpret the obscure passages 
by the plain ones (p. 25). Barbs and ridicule are noticeably absent from the 
book. He does interact with the tenets of the single elder position, but he 
always confines his critique to its lexical (p. 8), grammatical (p. 24), con- 
textual (pp. 31-32), or practical (pp. 46-69) weaknesses. 

The greatest flaw in the book comes in the treatment of the elder's age 
(pp. 136-40). The author has been highly influenced by an article that 
appeared in The Reformation Review now known as Searching Together. His 
central argument is lexical, contending that the word TrpeoPuxepoc; (elder) 
refers primarily to chronological age. Thus, the elder must be aged. Stabbert 
concludes that "the average age of elders should certainly not be much less 
than the age of fifty" (p. 140). However, it seems much more likely that the 
emphasis of 7rpea|3uTepoq is upon spiritual maturity, not age. When age is a 
distinguishing factor in church policy, the Bible is elsewhere very specific 


about it (1 Tim 5:9). If the elder's age is a major qualification, it seems 
singularly odd that the NT should leave the age so undefined. Moreover, the 
Pauline evidence leans to the contrary. Both 1 Timothy and Titus presuppose 
that an elder might well have young dependents still in his home (1 Tim 
3:4-5; Titus 1 :6). This would not be normative for physically aged men, but 
would seem to open the door of eldership to men in their twenties, thirties, 
and forties. This obvious weakness is an unfortunate flaw in an otherwise 
highly commendable work. 

The single-elder position is not without its own line of argumentation. 
Many have found theological footing in citing the seven angels of Revelation 
1-3 (pp. 31-34) or men like Epaphras (pp. 28-30) and Timothy (pp. 34-40) 
as examples of a single-pastor system. Stabbert argues convincingly that 
Epaphras and Timothy were not pastors in a single-elder church. Rather, 
they were apostolic legates, itinerant church planters (evangelists), working 
with the apostle Paul. He finds the argument from Revelation 1-3 suspect in 
that "every other time that John uses 'angel,' he means celestial being" (p. 31). 
He also points out that since "the word 'angel' is the Lord's interpretation of 
the symbol 'star,' it seems likely that the word 'angel' is not itself another 
emblem which must be interpreted further. But this is exactly what the pastor 
view requires us to do" (p. 32). 

Others have found grammatical refuge in the articular and singular form 
of the word "overseer" in Titus 1:7 and 1 Tim 3:2. It is argued that the 
articular singular points to one elder as opposed to the plurality of deacons 
found in 1 Tim 3:8, 12. Stabbert has responded with an important grammat- 
ical clarification: "The Greek carries more of the force of the type of person 
involved (called the generic use of the article)" (p. 24). No specific elder is 
intended; rather, it points to any sample member of the eldership. 

Beyond its exegetical value. The Team Concept offers a wide range of 
practical insights into the inner workings of the eldership. It answers many of 
the "how to" questions like: How do we prevent schisms with a plurality of 
elders (pp. 78-80)? How do we determine who will be supported as a staff- 
elder (pp. 81-87)? How do we develop a plurality of men who meet the 
biblical qualifications for the eldership (pp. 87-95)? How do we select our 
elders (pp. 140-48)? And, how do we change from a single elder to a plural 
elder church (chap. 6)? 

Chap. 7 (on the qualifications for the elder) is one of the highlights of 
the book. Each qualification is examined through a series of insightful ques- 
tions which help define its boundaries. There is also an appendix in a similar 
format which is designed to aid the congregation in its evaluation of potential 
elders. The appendix itself offers a wide variety of helpful information. 

It is disappointing that the book has not been picked up by a major 
publisher. It is a valuable and timely work that deserves a wider circulation. 
Those who are predisposed to plurality will welcome it as a major contribu- 
tion on the subject. Those who hold an opposing view should acquaint 
themselves with one of the best treatments available supporting plurality of 

Steven C. Felder 
Clarksburg, WV 

Books Reviewed 


Hughes, Gerald and Stephen Travis, Harper's Introduction 
to the Bible (Richard D. Patterson) 113 

Osborne, Grant R. and Stephen B. Woodward, Handbook for Bible Study 
(David L. Turner) 116 


Butler, Trent C, Joshua (G. L. Klein) 117 

Craigie, Peter C, Ugarit and the Old Testament (Stephen R. Schrader) .... 118 
YouNGBLOOD, RoNALD F., Exodus (Donald Fowler) 122 


Bruce, F. F., The Gospel of John (Ronald T. Clutter) 125 

Fee, Gordon D., New Testament Exegesis: A Handbook for Students and 

Pastors (David L. Turner) , 126 

Kingsbury, Jack Dean, The Christology of Mark's Gospel {Tr&cy L. Howard) 129 
Liefeld, Walter L., New Testament Exposition: From Text to Sermon (Tracy 

L. Howard) 134 

MoTYER, Alec, 77i^ Message of Philippians (David Alan Black) 135 

Stock, Eugene, Practical Truths From the Pastoral Epistles (Richard Mayhue) 137 


Clark, Gordon Haddon, In Defense of Theology (Ronald T. Clutter) 139 

GuNDRY, Stanley N. and Alan F. Johnson, eds.. Tensions in Contemporary 

Theology (Gary R. Habermas) 140 

Hasker, William, Metaphysics: Constructing a World View (Gary R. 

Habermas) 142 

Roberts, Robert C, Spirituality and Human Emotion, (Charles R. Smith) ... 144 

Snyder, John, Reincarnation vs. Resurrection (John C. Whitcomb) 145 

WooDBRiDGE, JoHN D., Biblical Authority: A Critique of the Rogers/ McKim 

Proposal (George J. Zemek) 148 


Askew, Thomas A. and Peter W. Spellman, The Churches and the American 
Experience (Ronald T. Clutter) 152 

Cannon, William Ragsdale, History of Christianity in the Middle Ages: 
From the Fall of Rome to the Fall of Constantinople (t)avid Samuel 
Slusher) 154 


Kilpatrick, William Kirk, Psychological Seduction: The Failure of Modern 

Psychology (Trevor Craigen) 1 56 

Stabbert, Bruce, The Team Concept (Steven C. Felder) 159 




Volume 6 No 2 Fall 1985 

Studies in Honor of Herman Artliur Hoy 

Grace Theological Journal 

Published Semiannually by 

Grace Theological Seminary 

200 Seminary Dr. 

Winona Lake, IN 46590 

Editorial Board: Homer A. Kent, Jr., President 

Jerry Young, Chairman of the Board of Trustees 
E. William Male, Dean 

Editorial Committee: John C. Whitcomb, Editor 

John J. Davis, Assistant Editor 

Associate Editors: 
D. Wayne Knife, Old Testament 
Charles R. Smith, Theology 
John A. Sproule, New Testament 
Donald L. Fowler, Book Reviews 
David L. Turner, Managing Editor 

D. Brent Sandy, Business Manager 

David L. Zapf, Editorial Assistant 
David C. Baker, Editorial Assistant 
Peggy Helmick, Secretary 

Grace Theological Journal began semiannual publication in 1980 superseding the 
earlier Grace Journal which was published by the Seminary from 1960-73. GTJ is 
indexed in Christian Periodical Index, Elenchus Bihiiographicus Biblicus, New Testa- 
ment Abstracts, Old Testament Abstracts, Religion Index One, and Religious and 
Theological Abstracts. 

Subscription rates are $11.50/one year. $l9.00/two years, $27.00/three years in the 
United States. Foreign rates are $13.75/ one year, $2 1. 50/ two years, $29.00/ three years, 
payable in U.S. funds. Inquiries about subscriptions should be directed to the secretary 
at Box 373, Grace Theological Seminary, 200 Seminary Dr., Winona Lake, IN 46590; 
telephone (219) 372-5123. 

Manuscripts for consideration should be sent in duplicate to David L. Turner, Grace 
Theological Journal, Box 364, Grace Theological Seminary, 200 Seminary Dr., 
Winona Lake, IN 46590. All articles should be typewritten, double-spaced, on one side 
of the page only, and should conform to the requirements of the Journal of Biblical 
Literature style sheet; see JBL 95 (1976) 331-46. One exception should be noted, 
namely, that GTJ prefers the use of the original scripts for Greek and Hebrew, in 
contradistinction to JBL. 

ISSN 0I98-666X. Copyright © 1985 Grace Theological Seminary. All rights reserved. 


Volume 6 No 2 Fall 1985 

Studies in Honor of Herman Arthur Hoyt 

A Festschrift for Dr. Herman Arthur Hoyt 167-168 


Appreciations from Friends, Students, and Colleagues . . 169-179 
Herman A. Hoyt: A Biographical Sketch 181-186 


The Writings of Herman A. Hoyt: A Select Bibliography, 

1934-1984 187-199 



Christ's Atonement and Animal Sacrifices in Israel ... 201-217 


The Book of Life 219-230 


The Prophet's Watchword: Day of the Lord 231-246 


Daniel 7: A Vision of Future World History 247-256 


Is a Posttribulational Rapture Revealed in Matthew 24? . 257-266 


Are the Seven Letters of Revelation 2-3 Prophetic? . . . 267-273 


The Continuity of Scripture and Eschatology: Key 

Hermeneutical Issues , 275-287 



The New Covenant and the Church 289-298 


"Everyone Will Be Salted With Fire" (Mark 9:49) .... 299-304 



The "Poor" in the Beatitudes of Matthew and Luke ... 305-314 


The Uniqueness of New Testament Church Eldership . . 315-327 


Shepherds, Lead! 329-335 


The Meaning of "Sleep" in 1 Thessalonians 5:10 — A 

Reappraisal 337-348 


A Study of "Mystery" in the New Testament 349-360 


Are Seminaries Preparing Prospective Pastors to Preach 
the Word of God? 361-371 



Brethrenism and Creeds 373-381 


Baptism by Triune Immersion 383-390 


The Lord's Supper Until He Comes 391-401 


When is Communion Communion? 403-410 


The Agape/ Eucharist Relationship in 1 Corinthians 11 . . 411-424 


Footwashing as an Ordinance 425-434 


The Christian and War: A Matter of Personal Conscience 435-455 


Book Reviews 457-462 

Books Received 463-477 

Theses and Dissertations at Grace Theological 

Seminary, 1985 478-480 


James L. Boyer 

Professor Emeritus, Grace Theological Seminary, 200 Seminary 
Dr., Winona Lake, IN 46590 

Ronald T. Clutter 

Theology Department, Grace Theological Seminary, 200 Semi- 
nary Dr., Winona Lake, IN 46590 

J. Timothy Coyle 

Pastor, Grace Brethren Church of Newark, 9 Jamison St., 
Kimberton, Newark, DE 19713 

James Custer 

Pastor, Grace Brethren Church of Columbus, 6675 Worthington- 
Galena Rd., Worthington, OH 43085 

Allen Edgington 

Pastor, Community Grace Brethren Church, 909 S. Buffalo St., 
Warsaw, IN 46580 

Donald Earner 

Pastor, Grace Brethren Church, P.O. Box 87, Sunnyside, WA 

Weston W. Fields 

Dept. of Classical Languages, Grace College, 200 Seminary Dr., 
Winona Lake, IN 46590 

Kenneth O. Gangel 

Christian Education Department, Dallas Theological Seminary, 
3909 Swiss Ave., Dallas, TX 75204 

Tracy L. Howard 

New Testament Department, Grace Theological Seminary, 200 
Seminary Dr., Winona Lake, IN 46590 

Robert D. Ibach 

Librarian, Grace Schools, 200 Seminary Dr., Winona Lake, IN 

Thomas Julien 

Grace Brethren Foreign Missions, Chateau de St. Albain, 71260 
Lugny, FRANCE 

Homer A. Kent, Jr. 

President, Grace Schools, 200 Seminary Dr., Winona Lake, IN 



Biblical Studies Department, Biola University, 13800 Biola Ave., 
LaMirada, CA 90639 

Richard L. Mayhue 

Pastor, Grace Brethren Church, 3590 Elm Ave., Long Beach, CA 

Gary T. Meadors 

New Testament Department, Grace Theological Seminary, 200 
Seminary Dr., Winona Lake, IN 46590 

David W. Miller 

Pastor, North Long Beach Brethren Church, 6095 Orange Ave., 
Long Beach, CA 90805 

David R. Plaster 

Practical Theology Department, Grace Theological Seminary, 
200 Seminary Dr., Winona Lake, IN 46590 

Charles R. Smith 

Theology Department, Grace Theological Seminary, 200 Semi- 
nary Dr., Winona Lake, IN 46590 

David L. Turner 

New Testament Department, Grace Theological Seminary, 200 
Seminary Dr., Winona Lake, IN 46590 

John F. Walvoord 

President, Dallas Theological Seminary, 3909 Swiss Ave., Dallas, 
TX 75204 

John C. Whitcomb 

Theology Department, Grace Theological Seminary, 200 Semi- 
nary Dr., Winona Lake, IN 46590 

Galen W. Wiley 

Pastor, Grace Brethren Church, 22797 Ellsworth Ave., Minerva, 
OH 44657 

Jerry R. Young 

Pastor and Chairman of Grace Schools Board of Trustees, Grace 
Brethren Church, 501 W. Lincoln Ave., Lititz, PA 17543 



r f 



Herman Arthur Hoyt 

Grace Seminary Alumnus of the Year 
May 11, 1985 

A Festschrift for Dr. Herman Arthur Hoyt 

President Emeritus 

Grace Theological Seminary and Grace College 

THIS issue of the Grace Theological Journal is dedicated to Dr. 
Herman A. Hoyt, President of Grace Theological Seminary and 
Grace College from 1962 to 1976. The studies offered herein to honor 
this man of God represent a broad spectrum from his former students 
and colleagues — from the dedicated pastor who strives to make 
practical the teaching of the Word of God to the hard-working scholar 
who strives to discern the intricacies of the text. 

If a man's success in Christian ministry may be measured by the 
disciples he has trained, Herman A. Hoyt must stand tall among the 
evangelical leaders of the twentieth century. Only God can judge the 
hearts and motives of his servants, but his infallible Word gives some 
clear guidelines to determine quality in ministry and leadership. To 
those who have benefited from leaders faithful to their high calling in 
Jesus Christ, this admonition is given: "Remember those who led you, 
who spoke the word of God to you; and considering the outcome of 
their way of life, imitate their faith" (Heb 13:7). 

We had the privilege of studying under Dr. Hoyt in the late 1940s 
and early 1950s and then serving with him as colleagues in the teaching 
of God's Word until his retirement in 1976. During that quarter of a 
century, we observed a dedication to the Word and work of God rarely 
seen in the world of Christian higher education. He was thorough and 
meticulous in the classroom, especially in his chosen fields of biblical 
prophecy, the Greek NT, and the ordinances and distinctives of the 
Fellowship of Grace Brethren Churches. It is in honor of his writings in 
these three areas that this Festschrift has been prepared. 

Dr. Hoyt was not just a man of books and of "letters." He was a 
discipler and leader of Christian men. His powerful stand on issues 
that threatened to destroy the church he loved, and the scriptures upon 
which that church must be built, literally drove him into controversy 
and confrontation, and into effective teaching in Grace Brethren and 
other churches around North America for decades. He would often 
drive hundreds of miles at night after strenuous conference ministries 
in order to be in his office at Grace the following morning. Few if any 
of his younger colleagues could match his stamina! And this continued 


from the middle 1930s to the late 1970s. Surely, in this case, we saw an 
exemplification of Isaiah's words, "Though youths grow weary and 
tired, and vigorous young men stumble badly, yet those who wait for 
the Lord will gain new strength; they will mount up with wings like 
eagles, they will run and not get tired, they will walk and not become 
weary" (Isa 40:31-31). 

When theological or moral crises threatened the spiritual well- 
being of Grace Schools, Dr. Hoyt seemed to be at his best. Strengthened 
by God through a deep devotion to the infallible written Word, which 
he loved and knew so well, he would rise to the occasion and make his 
position known with great force and clarity. Who can begin to imagine 
where Grace Theological Seminary and Grace College would be today 
were it not for this man of God who stood his ground in the name of 
the Lord who had called and equipped him for Christian ministry? 

As an administrator, Dr. Hoyt followed the practice of encourag- 
ing full and free discussion of issues before final decisions were 
reached. Some who never saw him functioning in this capacity fail to 
realize this side of the man. He is a person of strong opinions and a 
forceful speaker, but he regularly listened to his advisers and was a 
more effective leader because of it. 

In his years in the presidency of Grace Theological Seminary and 
Grace College, Dr. Hoyt's many skills were often tested. He met such 
challenges with confidence and skill. Whether the situation was a 
church conference of thousands or a congregation of fifty; an educators' 
meeting or a civic gathering; the tensions of trustee, administrative, 
faculty, and student meetings; or the private interviews that occupy 
much of a president's life; he showed himself to be a man of concern 
and wisdom, worthy of high respect. 

It is with deep thankfulness to the gracious Saviour whom he still 
faithfully serves that we dedicate this special issue of the Grace 
Theological Journal to our beloved teacher and our brother in Christ, 
Dr. Herman Arthur Hoyt. 

Homer A. Kent, President of Grace Schools 

John C. Whitcomb, Editor of Grace TheologicalJournal 




IN an essay on compensations for Christian service, Herman Hoyt 
once spoke of the compensation "centering in the area of reciprocat- 
ing gratitude." He went on to describe such compensation: 

There has never been invented anything to take the place of 
expression of gratitude from a human heart for benefit received. It is a 
fragrance rising from an appreciative heart in which there is no merit 
and where no merit is intended, but by virtue of its very nature it 
becomes an overflowing compensation to him upon whom it is con- 
ferred. It is the return of grace for grace received, and takes a large place 
in the life and ministry of the servant of God. It does what money can 
never do ["The Many Compensations for Christian Service," Grace 
Journal 14 (\973) 10]. 

This section of the Festschrift is offered in the spirit of the 
preceding words. The contributors intend to return grace for grace 
received. Yet the glory goes to God, whom Dr. Hoyt faithfully serves. 

Forty-nine years ago this fall I enrolled in Dr. Hoyt's Beginning Greek 
class at Ashland College. We were told that the purpose of the class was to 
provide a "working knowledge" of NT Greek. We soon learned that the basic 
ingredient of the course was indeed work! However, what 1 learned from Dr. 
Hoyt in Greek (and Hebrew, as well) has provided me with a fine foundation 
for a lifetime of expository preaching. 

1 recall an occasion when a student took it upon himself to enlighten Dr. 
Hoyt as to the proper use of the word "repent." "Professor Hoyt," he said, 
"surely you know that 'repent' is a Jewish word and is never used in connection 
with Gentiles." Dr. Hoyt did not argue but simply asked the student to find 
Acts 17:30 and read it aloud. Paul's words that God "now commands all men 
everywhere to repent" effectively ended the discussion! 

As a student of Dr. Hoyt and as his colleague in teaching from 1942-45, 1 
found him to be fair and earnest. In a time of real personal need he was my 


loyal friend and counselor. I continue to thank God for his faithfulness to the 
Word, his inspiring ministry, and his devotion beyond the call of duty. 

John M. Aeby 

Retired Brethren Minister 

Waterloo, I A 

My first acquaintance with Dr. Hoyt was as a fellow student at Ashland 
College and Seminary. I found him to be a good friend and brother in Christ. 
He always excelled academically and graduated at the top of his class. Yet I 
remember one time (the only time!) when 1 received a higher grade than he did 
on an exam in the origin and growth of religions! I also recall Dr. Hoyt's 
participation in an annual intramural football game between seminary and 
preseminary students. One year a collision rendered him and another student 
unconscious! By the coach's orders, that was the end of such annual games! 

Since college and seminary my association with Dr. Hoyt has remained 
cordial and inspirational. He deserves any recognition that comes his way. 

Robert A. Ashman 

Executive Director. Riverwood Ranch 

Warsaw, IN 

The Grace Seminary class of 1943 has many memories. We remember 
classes which were smaller and perhaps less formal than today. However, we 
also vividly remember Dr. Hoyt teaching with ringing authority, as one of the 
patriarchs of old, thrilling us with the eternal verities of God's inerrant Word. 

In spite of heavy administrative duties due to Dr. IVicClain's illness and his 
own teaching responsibilities. Dr. Hoyt was still personally involved in the 
lives of the students. He cared deeply about students and often ministered with 
them on weekends. Among the memories of the past it is especially meaningful 
to have experienced the excellent teaching of God's servant, Herman A. Hoyt. 

S. Wayne Beaver 

Associate Professor of Missions 

Grace Theological Seminary 

I am grateful for this opportunity to express my personal appreciation for 
the immeasurable impact that my dear brother in the Lord, Herman Hoyt, has 
made in my Christian life and ministry. From the time we first met as college 
freshmen the Lord seemed to knit us together in a David-Jonathan kind of 
relation in which Herman became my big brother. Through six years of college 


and seminary we were inseparable. He invited me to become involved in the 
college Men's Gospel Team, and the Lord used that to turn the direction of my 
life from science to the Christian ministry. We majored in Greek together, we 
studied under Dr. Alva J. McClain together, and I grew stronger in the Lord at 
his encouragement. 

For a period of several years after those school days our paths went 
separate ways. 1 went into the pastorate while he began his brilliant career as a 
teacher in Grace Theological Seminary. But the Lord brought us back together 
at another crucial crossroads in my life. When it became clear to me that 1 
could not continue serving the Lord in the denomination with which 1 was then 
associated and while 1 was searching for the Lord's will for my future ministry. 
Brother Hoyt stopped in to visit. He encouraged me to come to Grace and 
pursue my doctoral studies to prepare me to teach Greek, a dream which I had 
had for a long time. I followed his advice, and there began the happiest and 
most blessed period of my life. 

We were co-workers at Grace for thirty years. It was my privilege to be 
associated with him as a member of the faculty and the Administrative 
Committee. The camaraderie of college days did not return; we were both too 
busy for that. But my respect and love for him grew as 1 watched him being 
used by the Lord in the executive positions he filled so masterfully. On many 
occasions 1 went to him for personal and professional advice and 1 never went 
away empty. 

Now both of us are in "partial" retirement, and both as busy as ever, it 
seems! I often remember him and our lives together and on this occasion of 
recognizing and honoring him I want to thank God that he permitted me to 
share in the overflow of Herman Hoyt's life and ministry. 

James L. Boyer 

Professor Emeritus 

Grace Theological Seminary 

It was my privilege to serve as Chairman of the Board of Trustees of Grace 
Schools during the first four years of Herman A. Hoyt's presidency. It was 
during these years especially that I learned the greatness of this man of God. 
Three basic qualities come to mind— conviction, courage, and compassion. 

When Dr. Hoyt preaches or teaches, it is always with the authority of 
"thus saith the Lord." This conviction of biblical authority was costly early in 
his career but it must be a joy for him now to look back and know that he 
attempted to teach the whole counsel of God. It took courage to enact his 
convictions when he joined the faculty of the newly born Grace Seminary for 
the fabulous salary of $2,000 a year! Later during his presidency many crucial 
decisions also required a great deal of courage. But another quality frequently 
seen in his life was compassion. He could "weep with those who weep, and 
rejoice with those who rejoice" (Rom 12:15). Such compassion was not always 


publicly expressed, but in the privacy of his office or with close friends it was 
always in evidence. 

I thank God that one day my path crossed the path of Herman A. Hoyt 
and that we have been able to serve our Lord together. 

Paul E. Dick 
Brethren Minister 
Winona Lake, IN 

Though time has erased many of the memories of Dr. Hoyt's ministry 
during the early days of Grace Seminary, a few incidents still stand out. Dr. 
Hoyt's use of alliteration was often mimicked by the students, sometimes to the 
detriment of the biblical passage being outlined. He sometimes had to warn the 
class that, "Alliteration is fine, but don't distort the passage!" Once a student 
complained to him about a grade on a Hebrew exam. Dr. Hoyt showed the 
student how he had neglected to include the vowel pointings for the letters. The 
student said, "Oh well, what's a couple of points between friends?" Of course. 
Dr. Hoyt was always known for hard exams. During one of them a student 
called out, "Dr. Hoyt, do you think Paul could pass this exam?" Everyone 
roared with laughter. 

One cannot sit under Dr. Hoyt's ministry without realizing he is a diligent 
student of the Word. His messages are always valuable because of his accurate 
exposition and application to everyday living. Not only does he teach the 
Word, he also lives by its precepts. My late husband, Harold, and I have 
always counted him as a real friend. 

Ada Etiing 
Winona Lxike, IN 

Dr. Herman Hoyt is a man "ordained a preacher and ... a teacher" 
(1 Tim 2:7). For almost a quarter of a century it has been my privilege to know 
Dr. Hoyt as a friend and co-worker. His friendship has made my life richer and 
I thank God for making it possible for our paths to cross. 

To all who have had the opportunity to sit under his ministry, he has 
proven himself to be "able to teach" ( 1 Tim 3:2). Without question, he is one of 
the leading premillennial Bible scholars of our day. All the members of the 
Advisory Council and Executive Board of the A.A.J.E. (of which he is 
chairman) thank God for his dedicated leadership, wise counsel, and faithful- 
ness in declaring the "whole counsel of God" (Acts 20:27). 

Ralph M. Gade 

Executive Director 

American Association for Jewish Evangelism 


My acquaintance with Herman A. Hoyt began when he was a freshman at 
Ashland College. Several of his characteristics made a lasting impression on 
me. 1 noted long ago in football practice and ever since in his effective ministry 
that he is aggressive in the best sense of the word. Also it has been clear all 
along that he and his wife Harriett would make any legitimate sacrifice in 
order to accomplish the goals they had determined. 

Dr. Hoyt and 1 both received our Th.D. degrees in 1946. Working through 
A. T. Robertson's large Greek grammar with him was a genuine inspiration 
despite the difficulty involved. The classes I had under his instruction were not 
only highly educational but also thrilling and challenging. 

Raymond E. Gingrich 
Professor Emeritus 
LeTourneau College 

My friendship with Herman A. Hoyt has spanned more than half a 
century. It began in 1928 when we were classmates at Ashland College and 
Seminary. He and 1 were among the 18 men under the leadership of Alva J. 
McClain who met in June 1937 in the Ashland home of J. C. Beal to pray for 
the Lord's direction in the forming of a new Seminary. This led to the 
incorporation that same year of Grace Theological Seminary. 

During my nearly 30 years of pastoral ministry Dr. Hoyt was a most 
welcome guest Bible teacher in the churches I served. He invited and 
encouraged me to join the staff of Grace Schools. Herman and his wife 
Harriett have been dear friends to me and my wife Mary for nearly six decades. 
We praise the Lord for this fine relationship and pray God's continued blessing 
on Dr. Hoyt's extensive speaking ministry. 

Thomas E. Hammers 
Alumni Coordinator, 1964-75 
Grace Schools 

One summer afternoon several years ago, it was my privilege to visit my 
friend, Herman A. Hoyt. We sat in lawn chairs in his front yard talking about 
Bible doctrine and Christian education. I left that day challenged to serve the 
Lord in my responsibility as president of Cedarville College. 

Dr. Hoyt's friends consider him a man of God blessed by the Lord with 
many gifts. I have been encouraged by his faithful teaching and preaching of 
the Word of God. He has always been concerned to make the Word of God 
very plain. 1 have also been encouraged as I have read his forthright writings. 
Never have I wondered where this man of God stands so far as Biblical truth is 


concerned. I have been encouraged by Dr. Hoyt's emphasis upon BibUcal 
prophecy. One does not need to talk with him very long before realizing that he 
believes that Christ could come at any moment. 

I have been encouraged by Dr. Hoyt because he always seemed to have 
time to listen and be of help. His books have been and still are a source of 
encouragement as I study the Bible and proclaim it. I count it a privilege to 
speak this word of commendation for my good friend in the ministry of the 
gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. 

James T. Jeremiah 
Cedarville College 

It was my honor on August 15, 1962, in representing Grace College as 
Student Body President, to bring formal greeting to Dr. Herman A. Hoyt 
when he was inaugurated as the new President of Grace Schools. Recently, I 
have read again his inaugural address given at the seventy-third annual 
conference of the National Fellowship of Brethren Churches. The following 
statement testifies to his life: 

Long ago I came to personal conviction in the faith. It is my treasure. It is my life. 
I have become so closely identified with it that when it suffers, I suffer. I could not 
accept this new position without the understanding that I must persist in this 
faith. I am grateful to God that personal and professional responsibility become 
one at this point ["Response at the Inauguration," Brethren Missionary Herald 24 

I have discovered this testimony to be an accurate reflection of Dr. Hoyt's 
life-style, whether 1 saw him through the eyes of a student, or later as a fellow 
minister of the Gospel. His commitment to "contend earnestly for the faith 
which was once for all delivered to the saints" (Jude 3) has continued as a 
hallmark in his life. Other Grace alumni join me in honoring him for his 
commitment to Christ and his Word. 

Luke Kauffman 
Grace Brethren Church 
Mverstown, PA 

Dr. Hoyt's dedication to the ministry of teaching knew no bounds, and his 
interest in teaching Greek was extraordinary. During World War H, it was 
necessary for the seminary to have classes during the summer so that the 
students would not lose their ministerial deferments. 1 had just graduated from 
high school, and he conscripted me to take Beginning Greek with a class of 
seminary men each morning. Inasmuch as I needed to finish the course before 
the others in the class so that 1 could begin college in the fall. Dr. Hoyt met 
with me every afternoon for an additional chapter of Machen's Grammar. 


That unforgettable experience produced a great respect for the man and a love 
for the Greek NT that has never diminished. 

Homer A. Kent, Jr. 
Grace Schools 

The influence of Herman A. Hoyt in my life has indeed been far-reaching, 
beginning during my student days and continuing until now. Unconsciously at 
first, and then consciously 1 adopted him as a role-model in three ways. 

As a teacher. Dr. Hoyt has unique gifts. He is a dedicated scholar who 
disciplines himself to know his subject thoroughly and to communicate it 
clearly. As a preacher, I came to see a different side of Dr. Hoyt. When he 
spoke in churches I pastored I found that he was able not only to probe the 
Scriptures deeply but also to expound the Scriptures with simple clarity and 
compassion for his audience. As a friend. Dr. Hoyt taught me how to be a 
friend. He has the quality of making students view him as a close friend while 
still maintaining proper respect for his position. Frequent visits to his home 
during my student days left me with a wealth of wisdom concerning Christian 

I thank God for this dedicated man, whose life became for me a pattern as 
a teacher, preacher, and friend. 

William F. Kerr 
Professor of Theology 
Northwest Baptist Seminary 

Few words better describe Herman A. Hoyt than those of Neh 7:2, "he 
was a faithful man, and feared God more than many." His faithful service for 
the Lord ultimately led him to the presidency of Grace Schools. 

As a student of Dr. Hoyt and later as an administrator at Grace Schools, I 
observed Herman Hoyt as a "faithful man" who "feared God more than 
many." The Bema of Christ (2 Cor 5:10) will prove the heart of him who has 
given many years for the cause of Christian education. 

Arnold R. Kriegbaum 
Dean of Students Emeritus 
Grace College 
Silver Springs. FL 

I first met Dr. Hoyt when I visited Grace Theological Seminary as a 
prospective student in 1951. I did not observe him that day as a teacher, since 


no classes were in session. After a bit of checking around, I found him at a 
building site across the road where he was preparing forms for the footers for a 
new home he was helping a friend to build. I was impressed that here was a 
man who was not only a Christian scholar, but also who was not afraid to get 
his hands dirty in helping others. That impression remains. A man of many 
talents. Dr. Hoyt is equally at home with a power tool or a Greek NT. During 
the many years he served God at Grace he taught almost every course in the 
curriculum, from Hebrew and Greek to theology and homiletics. 

Most of us who sat in his courses remember the demands of his assign- 
ments and his exams, especially the latter. We also remember the firmness 
with which he treated infractions of academic and character standards at 
Grace. As one who worked very closely with him, I also remember his as a 
man of compassion. He had a greater personal concern for his students than 
many of them knew. I learned from him one of the most important lessons of 
my own career. He would express it something like this, "We have two kinds 
of relationships; one, official and the other, personal. Even though in extreme 
cases, we may have to sever the one, we should do everything we can to 
maintain and foster the other." 

I thank God for the privilege I had to sit under him as a student, to work 
with him as a colleague, and to know him — as I still do — as a dear friend and 
brother in Christ. 

William Male 


Grace Theological Seminary 

Though Herman A. Hoyt is renowned as an educator, administrator, 
writer, and teacher, he is also a friend and confidant to me, a loyal brother in 
the Lord. As a member of the board and later as president of the Christian 
League for the Handicapped, he contributed much wise counsel and insight. 
His record of attendance at the League's quarterly board meetings is remark- 
able; he did not miss more than 4 or 5 meetings in over twenty years of service 
until his retirement from the board in 1980. 

It is also a joy to have the Hoyts in our home and at our church. His 
ministry has been much appreciated here. In Paul's words, "I thank my God 
upon every remembrance of you, for your fellowship in the gospel from the 
first day until now" (Phil 1:3-4). 

Charles E. Pedersen 
Founder and Former Director 
Christian League for the Handicapped 
Pastor. Blue River Valley Church 
Muscoda, WI 

In 1940, shortly after I was saved, God called me into the ministry. Dr. 
Hoyt and Dr. McClain were speaking at a Bible Conference in Akron at the 


Ellet Brethren Church. My wife Genny and I went to this conference and had 
our first exposure to the excellent Bible preaching of these two leaders of the 
Brethren movement. Following the service we talked with these men con- 
cerning the pastoral ministry and the necessity of proper and adequate 
training. The counsel we received that evening, the interest shown to us, and 
the direction toward college and seminary proved to be invaluable for a 
lifelong ministry. Dr. Hoyt's personal interest in us followed our progress at 
William Jennings Bryan University where he was a trustee. His periodic visits 
at board meeting time were always accompanied by a visit to the tiny Pifer 
apartment and a checkup on when we would be coming to Seminary. 

In the summer of 1944 I came to Winona Lake to enroll at Grace 
Seminary. The evening before registration I went to Dr. Hoyt's study for a 
brief conference. 1 was confronted with this question: "You'll be in my Greek 
class starting Wednesday at 7 a.m.?" I was startled and then stammered: "I've 
had two years of Greek." Totally unprepared I faced then and there my first 
Seminary Greek test as he handed me his Greek Testament and said, "Turn to 
I John and read chapter one." I passed! However in the days ahead I took 
more Greek classes than required because I saw the value of such studies under 
this excellent Bible teacher. He registered an indelible mark upon my life in 
those Seminary years, in the areas of discipline, dedication to God's Word, and 
loyalty to the Brethren church. 

During my years in the home mission pastorate following seminary, I was 
elected to the Grace Theological Seminary Board of Trustees. During my 
twelve years of service in that capacity, there was continually a need to make 
decisions involving, e.g., increased staff, buildings, the beginning of Grace 
College, and the change of the presidency at Dr. McClain's retirement. 
Dr. Hoyt's strong stand for excellency in biblical education, and his allegiance 
to the Grace Brethren Fellowship were always clearly in evidence. He was our 
unanimous choice to lead the ongoing progress of Grace Schools. 

Later, after I became Executive Secretary of the Brethren Home Missions 
Council, my love and appreciation for Dr. Hoyt increased steadily. Often, as 
heads of two major phases of Grace Brethren ministry, we talked and prayed 
together concerning the many challenges facing us. His ministry of the Word, 
and his deep knowledge of Christian theology, especially in the area of biblical 
eschatology, helped us immensely in home mission mmistries. On one occasion, 
after Dr. Hoyt completed a series of messages on the Brethren distinctives, he 
was given a standing ovation. This literally brought him to tears. It was a 
spontaneous expression of love from our home mission family. 

His counsel has always been an asset in my ministry, and his mark upon 
my life surfaces often. I am indebted to him as my teacher, my colleague in 
Christian service, and my brother in Christ. 

Lester E. Pifer 

Executive Secretary 

Brethren Home Missions Council 

In the earliest days of Grace Seminary there were thirty-nine students and 
two full-time faculty members. In those days Herman Hoyt taught us Hebrew, 


Greek, NT Introduction, and many other courses. If the rigors of the early days 
tried the stamina of the students, how much more that of the faculty! The 
passing of days, however, has demonstrated that Dr. Hoyt was more than 
equal to this task. His life and ministry have been a pattern which many 
students have followed. 

I recall one incident from the early days of the school when it was time for 
midterm exams. Dr. Hoyt had just carefully admonished the class on some of 
the items the exam would cover. I facetiously remarked that we did not need to 
study since our grades were already determined. Dr Hoyt asked, "What do you 
mean by that?" I replied, "I believe in predestination." Without hesitation he 
said, "I do too, but you had better make your calling and election sure!" We 

Blaine Snyder 

Retired Brethren Minister 

Winona Lake, IN 

In all of his lectures and sermon outlines Herman Hoyt invariably 
alliterates every point, even the minor ones. There are many qualities of his life 
and ministry which I could highlight, but I will mention only a few. I could 
mention more, but none of them occur to me as adjectives beginning with the 
letter "d"! 

My first memory of Dr. Hoyt goes back to a youthful, dynamic speaker at 
seminary convocation in 1944. His dynamic pulpit ministry continues today. In 
his ministry he has been dedicated to the Brethren Church and to Grace 
Schools. His books and articles have clearly articulated the distinctives of the 
Brethren. It is also clear that Herman Hoyt has been demanding. He 
demanded excellence from himself in his academic and administrative respon- 
sibilities. He also demanded excellence from his students in his stringent course 
requirements and examinations. However, this demand for academic excellence 
was tempered by compassion and personal concern for students. I discovered 
this concern while serving briefly on the Grace faculty and attending the prayer 
meetings Dr. Hoyt led. 

Though the youthful appearance is gone. Dr. Hoyt remains today the 
same dynamic, dedicated, and demanding person I remember from forty-one 
years ago. 

Harry Sturz 
Biola University 

I first saw Herman Hoyt through the eyes of my husband, Norman, who 
was Dr. Hoyt's classmate at Ashland College and Seminary. Norman described 
him as a dedicated student who was not only prepared for the daily 
assignments but was also well into the assignments for the rest of the week. He 


was totally dedicated to the task of being a worthy student, and he has had the 
same dedication in his ministry of teaching and preaching the Word. 

For over ten years I had the opportunity to work with Dr. Hoyt in the 
administration of Grace College. Due to the pressures of his office he was 
sometimes terse but he was always confident, forthright, and committed. One 
always knew where he stood on an issue. 

Perhaps 1 have most admired his total dedication to the Lord and to the 
teaching of the Word — a task which he continues to do vigorously and 

Miriam McKeefery Uphouse 
Associate Dean of Students, Emeritus 
Grace College 

Grace Theological Journal 6.2(1985) 181-1 


Ronald T. Clutter 

IN 1936, Herman Arthur Hoyt penned words which expressed the 
convictions which have been the hub of his life and ministry for 
nearly five decades. He affirmed: 

There is no greater authority than the authority of the Lord Jesus Christ. 
There is no more ample faith than the whole Bible with every doctrine it 
contains. There is no more complete life than the life which appropriates 
the blessings of God, presents itself to God, separates from the world, 
and is transformed in His presence. There is no more perfect set of 
ordinances than those of the Word." 

Born in Greenfield, Iowa, on March 12, 1909, as the first child of 
Clarence Lyman and Anna Leola Dorsey Hoyt, he grew up in Dallas 
Center, Iowa, where he became a member of The Brethren Church. 
There Hoyt began his excellent academic career, graduating as vale- 
dictorian of the Dallas Center High School class of 1927.^ He played 
for his high school football team which in 1925 went undefeated and 
did not even allow another team to score. 

After a year of teaching in a country school, Hoyt entered 
Ashland College in the fall of 1928. He chose to attend Ashland due to 
the influence of respected pastors.^ As in high school, Hoyt distin- 
guished himself as a superior student. He graduated as valedictorian of 
the class of 1932.^ In 1930, during the course of his college studies, he 
married Harriet L. Fritz of Dallas Center. To this couple were born 
two sons, Joseph Paul and Edwin Max. 

Next Hoyt entered graduate theological study at Ashland Theo- 
logical Seminary, which had been established in 1930 as a result of the 
vision and influence of Alva J. McClain. The relationship established 

'Herman A. Hoyt, "Distinctive Elements in the Brethren Faith that Impel Us to 
Reach Out to All America Today," The Brethren Evangelist 58:41 (1936) 17. 

^"Our New President," Brethren Missionary Herald 24:2\ (1962) 323. 

'Herman A. Hoyt, "A Personal Testimony and Explanation," The Brethren 
Evangelist 6l:\4 {\939) 14. 

""Our New President," 323. 


between McClain and Hoyt would have far-reaching influence in the 
decades to follow. During his senior year of seminary Hoyt assumed 
the task of teaching Greek at Ashland College. He graduated with 
highest honors from the seminary in 1935.^ He wrote a 210-page thesis 
titled "The Place and Meaning of Death in the Bible Especially in Its 
Relation to Sin." J. Allen Miller, a highly respected NT professor at 
Ashland, "pronounced Professor Hoyt the ablest Greek student he 
ever had in his classes."^ Hoyt was Miller's choice as his successor in 
NT studies and, therefore, upon graduation he was added to the 
faculty at Ashland Seminary. He enrolled in the graduate program at 
the University of Michigan prior to beginning his teaching that fall. 
During his first year of classroom instruction in the seminary, he was 
given the added responsibility of teaching Hebrew Elements and some 
OT classes due to the resignation of Kenneth M. Monroe. 

His tenure on the seminary faculty was short-lived. Matters which 
for a number of years had been fomenting division at Ashland between 
college and seminary personnel came to a head. In June, 1937, both 
McClain and Hoyt found their ministries at Ashland terminated by 
action of the Board of Trustees.^ The two professors had been asked to 
tender their resignations or be dismissed. They chose the latter course 
and the letters of dismissal were issued on June 4. This action had 
serious consequences not only for Ashland College and Seminary and 
the dismissed professors but also "proved to be the action that brought 
about a definite division in The Brethren Church."^ 

A group of concerned Brethren men assembled at the home of 
J. C. Beal, in Ashland, for a time of prayer. Hoyt was one of the 
participants at this important meeting, the outcome of which was to be 
instrumental in setting the course of his life for the next fifty years. 
This gathering gave birth to The Brethren Biblical Seminary Associa- 
tion, which later in the summer of 1937 was renamed Grace Theological 
Seminary. The new seminary opened that fall, meeting in the facilities 
of the First Brethren Church of Akron, Ohio. McClain was chosen to 
be the president and he and Hoyt were the first two full-time 
professors. Though designated Professor of New Testament and 
Greek, Hoyt also taught OT, Hebrew, and Homiletics. He also 
enrolled as a student for the Master of Theology degree. He graduated 
in 1939, having written a thesis titled "A Semi-Critical Analysis and 


^Horner A. Kent, Sr., Conquering Frontiers (Wmona Lake, IN: BMH, 1972) 152. 

'No definitive reasons for the dismissals were stated in the letters of dismissal signed 
by Ashland president, C. L. Anspach, but events leading to this action are chronicled 
from different perspectives by Kent, Conquering Frontiers, 140-52; and Albert T. Ronk, 
History of the Brethren Church (Ashland, OH: Brethren Publishing Co., 1968) 395-426. 

*Kent, Conquering Frontiers, 152. 

clutter: hoyt: a biographical sketch 183 

Exposition of the Epistle of James." In the fall of 1939, Grace 
Seminary relocated in Winona Lake, Indiana. 

The division which occurred at Ashland had implications for the 
entire Brethren Church. Charges and counter-charges of legalism and 
antinomianism were registered by members of the rapidly polarizing 
factions. A denominational division resulted in 1939. The two parties 
were commonly called the "Ashland group" and the "Grace group." 
Hoyt was a central figure in the new National Brethren Biblical 
Conference, being elected its president in 1940. This movement was 
renamed the National Fellowship of Brethren Churches, of which 
Hoyt was elected moderator for 1943-44. He was involved also as 
chairman of the committee on church publications. He assisted in the 
founding of the Brethren Missionary Herald Company and was named 
a board member. He served as president of the Herald for its first 

Such a load of responsibility could take its toll on a less robust 
man, but Hoyt has always had a rugged constitution. In this respect he 
is the antithesis of McClain, who was troubled by various physical 
disorders for many years. Hoyt maintained a busy schedule and carried 
great responsibilities as McClain's assistant. In 1942, due to an illness 
McClain suffered, Hoyt was pressed into emergency service as president. 
During the years of McClain's presidency, Hoyt developed admin- 
istrative acumen which was to serve him well in the future. His was the 
task of doing the legwork for the president, forming new ideas, and 
helping to develop a solid organization. He was involved in selecting 
administrative and faculty personnel. While working diligently as a 
teacher and administrator, he also completed his work for the Doctor 
of Theology degree which was conferred upon him by Grace Seminary 
in 1946. His dissertation was titled "An Analytical and Devotional 
Commentary on the Second Epistle of Peter." 

A major step for Grace Seminary was taken with the opening of a 
collegiate division. This two-year school was born in the minds of 
leaders in the National Fellowship of Brethren Churches and was 
suggested in the moderator's address to the conference in 1947. It 
opened its doors in 1948 with thirty-two students. '° The school became 
a four-year college by action of the Board of Trustees in 1953." Hoyt 
served as academic dean of the combined schools from 1948 until 1962. 
He was registrar from 1948-51. 

After twenty-five years at the helm of Grace Seminary and Grace 
College, McClain resigned his presidency in 1962. On August 16, 1962, 

^"Our New President," 323. 

'"Terry White and R. Wayne Snider, 25 Years of God's Grace (Winona Lake, IN: 
Grace Schools, 1973) 5. 
"Ibid., 7. 


Hoyt was inaugurated as the second president at Grace Schools, a 
position which he held with distinction until his retirement in 1976. 
Under his leadership the student enrollment in the seminary increased 
from 160 (fall 1962) to 360 (spring 1976). The number of college 
students rose from 388 (fall 1962) to 646 (spring 1976)." This 
expanding student body necessitated additional campus facilities. A 
dining commons/ dormitory was erected in 1964, a second new dormi- 
tory opened in 1966, and the Morgan Library and Learning Center 
began service in 1969.'^ A major acquisition was the Winona Lake 
Christian Assembly facilities in 1968.''* The Eskimo Inn Restaurant on 
Park Avenue in Winona Lake was purchased in 1971 and made into a 
student union building.'^ Various other properties were added to the 
Grace Schools complex in order to better meet student needs. 

The crowning achievement of Hoyt's presidency was the granting 
of regional accreditation to the college by the North Central Associa- 
tion of Colleges and Secondary Schools in his last year in office. He 
was particularly pleased because the accreditation had come without 
compromising the Christian commitment of the college.'^ It has been 
estimated that in the later years of his presidency, Hoyt was traveling 
about 50,000 miles a year for the schools. '^ Many of those miles were 
covered by automobile, pulling a trailer. Hoyt did not fear flying but 
often enjoyed the companionship of his wife while traveling. They were 
able to be together in this manner most comfortably due to an allergic 
condition suffered by Mrs. Hoyt. 

Hoyt's contributions to his denomination and the larger body of 
Christ have not been limited to his achievements at Grace. Many who 
never came to Winona Lake profited from his expertise in the 
Scriptures through his broad preaching ministry. Especially noteworthy 
has been his prophetic conference ministry. Those who have not heard 
him preach can benefit from his writings. He was part of a three-man 
committee whose work on a Brethren handbook resulted in the 
publication of The Brethren Minister's Handbook in 1945. In seeking 
to share with the public the Brethren perspective regarding the 
ordinances of the church, Hoyt wrote This Do In Remembrance of 

'^Statistics from the Office of the Registrar contained in "In the Beginning," a paper 
presented by Paul E. Dick at the Grace Schools Facuhy Workshop, August 18, 1983, 

"White and Snider, 25 Years, 21-30. 

'"For a brief summary account of this acquisition, see Kent, Conquering Frontiers, 

''White and Snider, 25 Years, 23. 

'*"Dr. Hoyt Serving Grace Schools 1937-1976," Brethren Missionary Herald 3S:\2 
(1976) 16. 


clutter: hoyt: a biographical sketch 185 

Me, published in 1947. This book explains the observances of baptism 
by triune immersion and the threefold communion service. The book 
was written for the purpose of clarifying the Brethren distinctives in 
view of the more common forms of observance practiced by other 
fundamental churches.'* The need for such a statement has been borne 
out in discussions held among the Grace Brethren in recent years. A 
companion volume, All Things Whatsoever I Have Commanded You, 
was published in 1948. This work continues the presentation of the 
Brethren distinctives with discussions of the holy kiss, the laying on of 
hands, prayer and anointing for the sick, separation from worldly 
practice, separation from compromising relationships in business and 
fellowship, the non-swearing of oaths, and the practice of nonresistance 
in a violent world. The nonresistance theme became the subject of a 
book. Then Would My Servants Fight, published in 1956. Hoyt's 
continued commitment to this position resulted in his being chosen as 
a contributor to the book. War: Four Christian Views, published by 
InterVarsity Press in 1981. He wrote the chapter advocating the cause 
of nonresistance and critiqued articles by Myron S. Augsburger 
("Christian Pacifism"), Arthur F. Holmes ("The Just War"), and 
Harold O. J. Brown ("The Crusade or Preventive War"). 

Hoyt's expertise in NT studies is evidenced by a variety of 
expositional studies intended for the general student of Scripture. 
Lessons on the Epistle to the Romans written originally for The 
Brethren Quarterly resulted in a booklet titled The Gospel — God's 
Way in Saving Man. Later, The First Christian Theology: Studies in 
Romans was published. Studies in the Epistle to the Hebrews, also 
originally published in The Brethren Quarterly, became the book 
Christ — God's Final Word to Man. The 1953 series on the Book of 
Revelation in The Brethren Teacher was published as The Glory — Final 
Victory of Christ, and later developed into The Revelation of the Lord 
Jesus Christ, republished as Studies on Revelation. Studies on 2 Peter 
is a more recent contribution which built upon work done for his 
doctoral dissertation. 

Hoyt has always been very interested in biblical doctrine. His 
many years of study in the Gospel of John led him to write The New 
Birth, a study of John 3, later republished as Expository Messages on 
the New Birth. A syllabus for his seminary class qn eschatology was 
published by Moody Press in 1969 as The End Times. His emphasis on 
dispensational premillenniahsm eventuated in his being called upon to 
contribute an article espousing this position in the work The Meaning 
of the Millennium: Four Views (InterVarsity, 1977). In addition to his 

'^Herman A. Hoyt, This Do In Remembrance of Me (Winona Lake, IN: Brethren 
Missionary Herald, 1947) 7. 


own presentation, Hoyt also critiqued in this work articles by George 
Eldon Ladd ("Historic Premillennialism"), Loraine Boettner ("Post- 
millennialism"), and Anthony A. Hoekema ("Amillennialism"). 

Hoyt has been remembered by his students as a tough teacher in 
the classroom. His own disciplined study habits and distinguished 
academic record caused him to expect achievement from his students. 
The image of toughness carried over into his years as an administrator. 
However, his colleagues also speak of a balancing, inner graciousness. 
His expectations of his students and co-laborers at Grace were high 
but they were no higher than his concern for each person. As president 
he listened closely to the opinions of his advisers and normally heeded 
the counsel of the majority even though he might not be in agreement 

Outside his own denomination Hoyt has served with distinction as 
chairman of the Advisory Council and Executive Board of the 
American Association for Jewish Evangelism. This relationship goes 
back to the years when the association was headquartered in Winona 
Lake. His interest in prophetic themes made him an ideal choice for 
service within the organization. He has continued a ministry of 
preaching at prophetic conferences sponsored by AAJE. He has also 
served as president of the Board of Trustees of the Christian League 
for the Handicapped. 

In 1984 the Hoyts relocated to Lancaster, Pennsylvania. He still 
travels many miles each year for various preaching ministries. 

The appreciation of Grace Schools for its second president was 
demonstrated at Commencement in May, 1985. Hoyt was named 
Grace Seminary Alumnus of the Year. His remarks upon the occasion 
included words of surprise that he was still remembered at Grace. 
However, the facts bear witness that Grace Schools would be guilty of 
gross negligence if it forgot Herman Hoyt. His contributions to the 
existence, character, development, and achievement of the institution 
are unsurpassed. 

Grace TheologicalJournal 6.2 (19S5) 187-199 


Robert D. Ibach, Jr. 


DR. Hoyt's unforgettable impact on the Grace Brethren Church 
has been largely accomplished from three forums: the pulpit, the 
lectern, and the printed page. Those of us who have heard his 
persuasive preaching and teaching are grateful for his many writings 
which shall continue to minister to God's people in the future. 

Dozens of the essays that Dr. Hoyt wrote for the Brethren 
Missionary Herald magazine focus on current events, cultural trends 
and moral issues. Readers of these articles will be impressed by his 
ability to translate the truth of Scripture into compelling precepts that 
must govern the lifestyle of twentieth-century Christians. His rigorous 
submission to God's Word is evident in his writings on Brethren 
distinctives, especially This Do in Remembrance of Me (1941) and All 
Things Whatsoever I Have Commanded You (1948). But those 
familiar with the preaching, teaching and writing of Dr. Hoyt will 
remember and appreciate him best for his understanding of biblical 
eschatology and his capacity to apply prophetic truth to daily living. 

The present bibliography encompasses most of the articles, theses, 
tracts and books published by Dr. Hoyt from 1934 through 1984.' 
Some of the news columns that he wrote on behalf of Grace College, 
Grace Theological Seminary and the Herald Company are omitted, as 
are minor editorials, announcements and book reviews. 


BE — The Brethren Evangelist 
BMH — Brethren Missionary Herald 
GJ — Grace Journal 

'l gladly acknowledge the assistance of Dr. Weston Fields who produced "A 
Bibliography of Dr. Hoyt's Writings" in 1974, and of librarian William E. Darr who 
assisted in tracking down obscure references and elusive materials. 



Undated "As a Sentinel." Winona Lake: Brethren Missionary 

Herald. 15 pp. 
Undated "The Doctrine of Nonresistance in War." Winona 

Lake: Brethren Missionary Herald. 16 pp. 
Undated "Women's Head Covering." Winona Lake: Brethren 

Missionary Herald. 8 pp. 

1934 "What will the Second Coming of Christ Mean to 

Israel?" BE 56:13 (March 31) 6, 8; 56:14 (April 7) 
7-8; 56:15 (April 14) 6, 8; 56:16 (April 21) 6-8. 

1935 Place and Meaning of Death in the Bible; Especially in 

its Relation to Sin. Unpublished Th.B. thesis. Winona 

Lake: Grace Theological Seminary. 210 pp. 
1936a "Distinctive Elements in the Brethren Faith That Impel 

Us to Reach Out to All America Today." BE 58:41 

(October 24) 5-6, 10, 17. 
1936b "Our Growing Home Missions — A Challenge to Young 

Men to Enter the Ministry." BE 58:8 (February 22) 

1937 "A Social Program— Should the Brethren Church 

Incorporate Such in Its Work Today?" BE 59:12 

(March 20) 5-6, 19. 
1 938a "The General Epistle of James. " BE 60:40 (October 8) 

1938b "The Author of the Epistle of James and His Audience." 

5£60:42 (October 22) 5-6, 8. 
1938c "The Epistle of James." fif" 60:45 (November 12) 8-1 1. 
1938d "The Service Which Temptation Renders to the Be- 
liever." BE 60:41 (November 26) 7-9. 
1938e "There is a Rainbow in the Clouds." BE 60:28 (July 2) 

7-8, 15-17. 
1939a "The Course of Government Today: How Should the 

Christian View It?" BMH 1:5 (July) 11-12, 27-29. 
1939b Semi-Critical Analysis and Exposition of the Epistle of 

James. Unpublished Th.M. thesis. Winona Lake: 

Grace Theological Seminary. 247 pp. 
1940a "Character Creates Atmosphere" (Editorial). BMH 

2:26 (July 13)3. 
1940b "God's Idea of a Real Kingdom" (Editorial). BMH 

2:26 (July 13)2-3. 
1940c "Muddle of the World" (Editorial). BMH 2:26 (July 

1940d "Normal Christian Experience for Every Believer." 

5M// 2: 12 (January 13)4-5. 

ibach: hoyt: a select bibliography 189 

1940e "The True Principle of Non-Resistance in War and 

Peace." BMH 2:35 (September 21) 5-6. 
1941a "Attitudes in Israel: The Key to Their Sins" (Malachi 1). 

5M// 3:26 (July 12)2-3. 
1941b "The Rent Veil— Its Glorious Meaning." BMH 3:11 

(March 15)5. 
1941c "The Romance of the Important Greek Manuscripts of 

the Bible." BMH 3:38 (October 11) 2-4. 
1941d "To Know Christ and to Make Him Known." BMH 

3:16 (April 26) 4. 
1941e "The Value of Knowing the New Testament in the 

Original." BMH 3:34 (September 13) 3-4. 
1942 "Cradle of Bethlehem— Storm Center of Faith and 

Unbelief." BMH 4:41 (December 19) 2-3. 
1943a "The Inscription on the Cross of Christ" (John 19: 19). 

BMH 5M (May 1)276-79. 
1943b "The Seminary: A Gateway to Service." BMH 5:18 

(May 8) 291. 
1943c "What Happens When a Christian Sins?" BMH 5:27 

(July 17)442-43. 
1944a "He Touched My Life with His Ministry." BMH 6:12 

(February 26) 181. 
1944b "Moderator's Address: Two Sentinels on the Mountains 

of God" (2 Peter 1:9). BMH 6:44 (November 25) 

1944c "The Natural Man — A Creature of Limitations." BMH 

6:32 (August 26) 530-31, 533; 6:33 (September 2) 

1944d "The Natural Man — A Creature of Limitations." 

Winona Echoes {Grand Rapids: Zondervan, c. 1945) 

1944e "Noah Days are Now upon Us." BMH 6:36 (Sep- 
tember 30) 586-88. 
1945a "Condemned by the Word and Work of Christ" (John 

15:22-24). BMH 7:28 (July 28) 484-86, 488. 
1945b "Expository Preaching of the New Testament — Why?" 

BMH 7:46 (December 15) 760. , 
1945c "Fruitbearing in the Present and its Relation to the 

Future" (2 Peter 2: 1 - 1 1 ). BMH 7:44 (November 24) 

1945d "Glory Tomorrow for Gloom Today" (1 Peter). BMH 

7:20 (May 26) 331-33, 339. 
1945e "Growth in Grace Today for Gloom and Glory Tomor- 
row" (2 Peter). BMH 7:37 (October 6) 627-30. 



1946a Analytical and Devotional Commentary on the Second 

Epistle of Peter. Unpublished Th.D. dissertation. 

Winona Lake: Grace Theological Seminary. 189 pp. 
1946b "False Teachers Within the Fold of the Professing 

Church" (2 Peter 2:1-9). BMH 8:8 (February 23) 

1946c "The Fleshly Living Practiced by the False Prophets" 

(2 Peter 2: 1 0-22). BMH 8: 1 2 ( March 30) 27 1 -75. 
1946d "Grace Theological Seminary: A Spiritual Romance in 

Our Day." BMH 8:29 (August 3) 705, 710. 
1946e "Growing in Grace Finally Culminates in Eternal Glory" 

(2 Peter 3:14-18). BMH S:36 (September 28) 866-69. 
1946f "Holy Living Urged in View of the Coming of the Holy 

One" (2 Peter 3:8-13). BMH 8:28 (July 27) 677-79; 

8:32 (August 24) 771-72, 774. 
1946g "1 Counted the Blessings and They are Many." BMH 

8:16 (April 27) 376, 379. 
1946h "The Importance of Faith in the Word of God" (2 Peter 

3: 1 -7). BMH 8:24 (June 22) 566-70. 
1946i "New Testament Revelation and the Canon." BMH 

8:45 (November 30) 1055-56. 
1946J "Why We Require Hard Work at the Seminary." BMH 

8:47 (December 14) 1115. 
1947a "The Ancestry of the Revised Standard Version." 

5A///9:25 (July 28) 571-72. 
1947b "Did the New Testament Writers Know They Were 

Writing Scripture?" BMH 9:% (February 22) 172-73. 
1947c "The Glory of His Grace." (Sermon Preached on the 

Gospel Truth Broadcast) BMH9M (September 27) 

1947d "God's Great Penitentiary." (Sermon Preached on the 

Gospel Truth Broadcast) BMH 9:41 (October 18) 

1947e "Helps to the Study of the First Three Gospels." BMH 

9:4 (October 18)955. 
1947f "How Can One Determine a Church Ordinance?" 

BMH 9:2\ (May 31) 477-78, 484. 
1947g "How Old is Your God and How Long is Your Eternal 

Life?" BMH 9:29 (July 26) 669-70; 9:34 (August 30) 

786-87; 9:38 (September 27) 875; 9:42 (October 25) 

1947h "How Was the New Testament Canon Determined?" 

BMH 9:1 (January 25) 76-77. 
19471 "Is Grace Theological Seminary Ready?" BMH 9:10 

(March 8) 220-21. 

ibach: hoyt: a select bibliography 191 

1947J "The Revised Standard Version New Testament." BMH 

9:20 (May 24) 450. 
1947k "Some Spiritual Values of Prayer." (Sermon Preached 

on the Gospel Truth Broadcast) BMH 9:39 (October 4) 

19471 "There is a Rainbow in the Clouds of Judgment." 

(Sermon Preached on the Gospel Truth Broadcast) 

BMH 9-36 (September 13) 832-33. 
1947m This Do in Remembrance of Me. Winona Lake: The 

Brethren Missionary Herald. 105 pp. 
1947n "What is Full-Time Service?" BMH 9:16 (April 26) 

1947o "When the Lord Serves His Servants." (Sermon 

Preached on the Gospel Truth Broadcast) BMH 931 

(September 20) 867-68. 
1947p "The Wonder of the Book of God." (Sermon Preached 

on the Gospel Truth Broadcast) BMH 9:40 (October 

1948a All Things Whatsoever / Have Commanded You. 

Winona Lake: The Brethren Missionary Herald. 

112 pp. 
1948b "The Beginning of the Creation of God." BMH 10:45 

(November 27) 995-96. 
1948c "The Christian and Lawsuits." BMH 10:32 (August 28) 

1948d "The Firstborn of Every Creature." BMH 10:36 (Sep- 
tember 25) 852-53. 
1948e "Have We Abandoned the Evangelistic Methods of the 

Early Church?" BMH 10:16 (April 24) 374-75. 
1948f "The Place of Christ— In the Unfolding of the Scrip- 
tures." BMH 10:12 (March 27) 275-76. 
1948g "'What Have I to Do With Thee?'" BMH 10:23 

(July 24) 660-61. 
1948h "'What Thou Seest Write in a Book.'" BMH 10:20 

(May 29) 468-69. 
1949a "'But First Gave Their Own Selves.'" BMH 11:30 

(July 23) 503, 511. 
1949b "'For in Due Season We Shall Reap If We Faint 

Not.'" BMH 1 1:5 (January 29) 70. 
1949c "Foreign Missions Roll Call in Grace Seminary." BMH 

11:13 (March 26) 212. 
1949d "Is It Time to Build Your House?" BMH 11:43 

(October 22) 728. 
1949e "'Jesus Sat Over Against the Treasury.'" BMH 1 1:52 

(December 24) 862, 865. 



1950a Christ — God's Final Word to Man: An Exposition of 
the Epistle to the Hebrews. Winona Lake: Brethren 
Missionary Herald, 1950(7). 64 pp. Based on lesson 
exposition in The Brethren Quarterly 11:2 (April- 
June, 1950) 1-82. Revised 1974. 

1950b The Gospel — God's Way in Saving Men: An Exposition 
of the Epistle to the Romans. Winona Lake: Brethren 
Missionary Herald, 1950(7). 61 pp. Based on lesson 
exposition in The Brethren Quarterly 1 1 :4 (October- 
December, 1950) 1-92. Reprinted 1974. 

1950c "'Other Foundation Can No Man Lay.'" BMH 12:51 
(December 23) 869. 

1950d '"They Were As Sheep Not Having a Shepherd.'" 
BMH 12:1 (January 28) 55, 57. 

1951a "'But He Giveth More Grace.'" BMH 13:38 (Sep- 
tember 22) 662. 

1951b "Dr. L. S. Bauman and Brethren Theological Educa- 
tion." BMH 13:1 (January 6) 21-22. 

1951c "The Doctrine of Non-Resistance in War." BMH 13:4 
(January 27) 76-78; 13:5 (February 3) 96-97. 

195 Id "The Glory of His Infinite Person." BMH 13:34 
(August 25) 595. 

195 le "On What Day Did Christ Die7" BMH 13:8 (February 
24) 141, 143. 

195 If "What Time is It on Our Educational Clock7" BMH 
13:6 (February 10) 108-9. 

1952a "Holy, Holy, Holy, is Jehovah of Hosts" (Isaiah 6:1-3 
RV). BMH 14:8 (February 23) 124-25. 

1952b "How Shall We Escape7" BMH 14:51 (December 20) 

1953a "The Attitude of the RSV Translators Toward the 
Holy Scriptures." BMH 15:9 (February 28) 133-35. 

1953b The Glory— Christ's Final Victory Over All His 
Enemies: An Exposition of the Book of the Revela- 
tion. N.p.: By the author. 78 pp. Based on "The Book 
of Revelation," The Brethren Teacher 3:4 (October- 
December, 1953) iii-ix, 10-74. Revised 1966. 

1955 "The Nations are But Men." BMH 17:3 1 (July 30) 488. 

1956 Then Would My Servants Fight. Winona Lake: The 

Brethren Missionary Herald Company. 115 pp. 
1957a "Cradle of Bethlehem." BMH 19:51 (December 21) 

1957b "When a Christian Sins— 7" BMH 19:36 (September 7) 

572-73, 575. 

ibach: hoyt: a select bibliography 193 

1958a "How Was the New Testament Canon Determined?" 

BMH 20:34(?) (August 30) 552-53. 
1958b "What is Scriptural Healing?" Etemitv 9:8 (August) 

1958c "'What Thou Seest Write in a Book.'" BMH 20:24 

(June 14) 380. 
1958d "Why Maintain a Christian School?" BMH 20:47 

(November 22) 740, 43. 

1959a "The Great Commission: Some Things We Have Over- 
looked." BMH 21:30 (July 25) 476-77, 479. 

1959b "Membership in the Brethren Church: Something it 
Involves." BMH 21:28 (July 11) 446-47. 

1959c "The One True Baptism." BMH 21:31 (August 1) 

1959d "The One True Church." BMH 21:29 (July 18) 460-61 . 

1959e "The One True Communion." BMH 21:32 (August 8) 

1959f "A True Healing." BMH 21:33 (August 15) 526-27. 

1959g "What is a Christian College?" BMH 21:3 (January 17) 
36-37, 40. 

1960a "Education with a Purpose." BMH 22:38 (September 

24) 595, 97. 
1960b "Food for the Family— 'Which Were Born.'" BMH 

22:38 (September 24) 598, 601. 
1960c "God's Great Penitentiary." BMH 22:39 (October 1) 

1960d "General Review: Events Viewed in the Light of God's 

Word." Gy 1:1 (Spring) 35-36; 1:2 (Fall) 31-33. 
1960e "Grace College Receives Gift for T.V." BMH 22:9 

(February 27) 147. 
1960f "Present Trends in Evangelical Theology: Introduc- 
tion." BMH 22:4 (January 23) 60. 
1960g "Introduction to the Study of the New Birth." (77 1:1 

(Spring) 21-24. 
1960h "The Practical Value of Prophecy." BMH 22:47 

(November 26) 726-27; 22:5 1 (December 24) 788-89. 

1961a "General Review: Events Viewed in the Light of God's 

Word." Gy 2:1 (Winter) 3-4; 2:2 (Spring) 3-4; 2:3 

(Fall) 3-5. 
1961b "Jesus the Master Teacher." BMH 23:4 (January 28) 

1961c "Literature and the Education of the Church." BMH 

23:21 (May 27) 340. 



196 Id The New Birth. Findlay, OH: Dunham, 1961. 122 pp. 

Reprinted as Expository Messages on the New Birth, 

Winona Lake: BMH Books; and Grand Rapids: 

Baker. 122 pp. 
1961e "A Shameless Workman." BMH 23:37 (September 30) 

1961f "The Superstate and Education." BMH 23:33 (August 

19) 522-23. 
1961g "The Wonder of the Book of God." BMH 23:8 

(February 25) 116-17. 

1962a "A Christian Philosophy of Education." G'/3:l (Winter) 

1962b "Response at the Inauguration." BMH 2AM (August 25) 


1963a "General Review: Events Viewed in the Light of God's 

Word." GJAA (Winter) 44-46. 
1963b "A Missionary's Recognition of Purpose." BMH 25:2\ 

(September 21) 460-62. 
1963c "New Testament Doctrine Concerning the Antichrist." 

GJ4:2 (Spring) 25-34. 
1963d "The Satanic Trinity." BMH 25:\3 (June 1) 268-70. 
1963e "Speaking in Tongues." fiM//25:8 (March 23) 156-57; 

25:10 (April 20) 204-7. 

1964a "A Christian Philosophy of Education." BMH 26:2 
(January 25) 42-43. 

1964b "A Faculty with a Cause." BMH 26:17 (August 22) 

1964c "General Review: Events Viewed in the Light of God's 
Word." C?y 5:1 (Winter) 42-43; 5:2 (Spring) 25-27. 

1964d "A Missionary's Evaluation of Time: — The Coming of 
Christ." BMH 26:19 (September 19) 433-35. 

1964e "The Place of Athletics in a Christian College Cur- 
riculum." BMH 26:15 (July 25) 330-34. 

1964f "The Prospect for Private Christian Education." BMH 
26:26 (December 26) 578-79. 

1965a "The Ecumenical Movement in Present Day Professing 

Christendom." GJ 6:3 (Fall) 3-10. 
1965b "Educating for Impact." BMH 27:19 (October 16) 17, 

1965c "The Examination and Rewarding of the Church." 

5M// 27: 15 (July 24) 22-24. 
1965d "The Fatherhood of God." BMH 27: 17 (September 18) 

27-28, 30. 

ibach: hoyt: a select bibliography 195 

1966a Biblical Eschatology. Unpublished Manuscript. Wi- 
nona Lake: Grace Theological Seminary. 290 pp. 

1966b "The New Doctrines and the New Dangers." GJ 7:1 
(Winter) 3-8. 

1966c The Revelation of the Lord Jesus Christ: an Exposition 
of the Book of Revelation. Winona Lake: The 
Brethren Missionary Herald Company. 108 pp. Based 
on The Glory — Christ's Final Victory Over All His 
Enemies (1953). 

1966d "The Significance of the Name Grace." BMH 28:21 
(October 15) 17-18. 

1967a "The Explanation of the New Birth." GJ 8:2 (Spring) 

1967b "A Genuine Christian Non-Conformity" (Romans 12:2). 
(77 8:1 (Winter) 3-9. 

1967c "A Gift of Grace." BMH 29:11 (August 26) 17-18. 

1968a "Are We Biblical in Paying Our Pastors?" BMH 30:23 
(November 16) 24. 

1968b "Needed Today: Higher Academic Standards." BMH 
30:4 (February 24) 16-17. 

1968c "A Painstaking Scholar" [Alva J. McClain]. BMH 
30:26 (December 28) 19. 

1968d "Surprises . . . Crises . . . Hopelessness . . . Then, 
Jesus. . ."fiA/// 30: 17 (August 24) 18. 

1969a "Cities of Destiny." BMH 3\:6 (March 22) 16. 

1969b The End Times. Chicago: Moody Press. 256 pp. 

1969c "The Frantic Future and the Christian Directive, Acts 
1:8." Gy 10:1 (Winter) 36-41. 

1969d "Needed: True Faith." BMH 31:11 (August 23) 24-25. 

1969e "A School is Its Faculty." BMH 31:19 (September 20) 

1969f "A Word of Appreciation, Explanation." BMH 31:11 
(August 23) 25. 

1970a "Christ, the Savior." fiM// 32:25 (December 26) 18,23. 

1970b "How Do You Communicate a War?" BMH 32:14 
(July 25) 16-17. 

1970c "1 Pledge Allegiance ... or Do 1?" BMH 32: 16 (August 
22) 16,22. 

1970d "The Seething Seventies?" BMH 32:2 (January 24) 19, 

1970e "The Soaring Sixties in Retrospect." BMH 32:4 (Feb- 
ruary 21) 20-21. 

1970f "Some More Questions About the 70's." BMH 32:6 
(March 21) 16,21. 



1970g "There's a Storm Gathering." BMH 32:12 (June 27) 19, 

1971a "Alexander Mack and the Brethren." BMH 33:6 

(March 20) 16-17. 
1971b "Education is in Trouble." BMH 33:21 (October 16) 

1971c "Gleam of Light for Genesis Creation." BMH 33:19 

(September 18) 16-17. 
1971d "A Sad Commentary on Education." BMH 33:10 

(May 15) 17, 19. 
1971e "Something Happened December Twenty-Fifth." BMH 

33:26 (December 25) 17,21. 
197 If "Theologian Now Reckoning with God." BMH 33:13 

(June 26) 18-19. 
1971g "Youth, Are You Ready?" BMH 33:2 (January 23) 

1972a "The Cost of Quahty." BMH 34: 1 1 (May 27) 18-19. 
1972b "Criminal Punishment: Retributive or Corrective?" 

5M// 34:8 (April 15)20-21. 
1972c "Explo 72: An Evaluation." BMH 34:21 (October 14) 

1972d "The Fight to Escape Education's Doomsday." BMH 

34:13 (June 24) 18-19. 
1972e "It's High Time We Get Started." 5A/// 34: 15 (July 22) 

1972f "On Space Exploration." BMH 34:4 (February 19) 

1972g "Things to Come." BMH 34:17 (August 19) 19; 34:19 

(September 16)21. 
1972h "Where Is History Headed?" BMH 34:2 (January 22) 

1972i "Who Wants to Hear the Awful Truth?" BMH 34:6 

(March 18) 16-17. 
1973a "Before the Watergate." BMH 35:19 (September 29) 

1973b "The Divine Call to the Ministry of Jesus Christ." GJ 

14:1 (Winter) 3-11. 
1973c "The Earthborn Problems Confronting the Servant of 

God." Gy 14:2 (Spring) 3-13. 
1973d "The Faithfulness of God and You." BMH 35:23 

(November 24) 15,23. 
1973e "The Many Compensations for Faithful Christian 

Service." Gy 14:3 (Fall) 5-13. 
1973f "Preparing for the Coming Crisis." BMH 35:21 

(October 27) 20-21; 35:23 (November 24) 21-22. 

ibach: hoyt: a select bibliography 197 

1973g Editor, Romans: The Gospel of God's Grace; the 

Lectures of Alva J. McClain. Chicago: Moody Press. 

253 pp. 
1973h "The Spirit of Israel." BMH 35:19 (September 29) 17. 
1973i "The Task of a Christian College." BMH 35:21 

(October 27) 22-23. 
1973J "These are Momentous Days." BMH 35:24 (December 

15) 14, 17. 
1973k "A Tribute to Professor George E. Cone, Jr." BMH 

35:23 (November 24) 23. 
19731 "What of the New Year?" BMH 35:2 (January 20) 


1974a Biblical Eschatology. Unpublished manuscript. Winona 

Lake: Grace Theological Seminary. 229 pp. 
1974b Christ — God's Final Word to Man: An Exposition of 

the Epistle to the Hebrews: A Study Guide. Revision 

of 1950(?) edition. Winona Lake: BMH Books. 127 

pp. Reprinted 1982. 
1974c "Except Ye Repent Ye Shall Perish." BMH 36:16 

(August 17) 16-17. 
1974d "Is There Any Such Thing As Hope?" BMH 36:2 

(January 19) 16-17. 
1974e "A New Age of Anxiety for the Jews." BMH 36:4 

(February 16) 16-17. 
1974f "The One and Only Hope for the Future." BMH 36:21 

(October 26) 14-15. 
1974g "Predictive Prophecy in Theological Education." Grace 

Seminary Spire 1:2 (March-April) 3. 
1974h "The Revelation of the Tapes." BMH 36: 14 (July 20) 

1974i "Running To and Fro and Increasing in Knowledge." 

BMH 36:23 (November 23) 14-15. 
1974J "Some Good Questions." BMH 36:8 (April 27) 18-19. 
1974k "Surviving the Shock Waves of Education." BMH 

36:10 (May 25) 15-16. 
19741 "Until the Day Dawns." BMH 36:12 (June 22) 16-17. 

1975a "For We Are Saved by Hope." BMH 31:2 (January 15) 

1975b "If the Road is Flowery. . . ." BMH 31:20 (October 15) 

1975c "The Importance of Education." 5A/// 37: 12 (June 15) 

1975d "In the Last Day Perilous Times Shall Come." Grace 

Seminary Spire 3:2 (November-December) 6-7. 



1975e "Let's Preserve the Home." BMH 31:23 (December 15) 

8, 11. 
1975f "Surely the Coming of the Lord Draws Near." BMH 

37:22 (November 15)22-23. 
1975g "'We Area People, One People.'" fiAf// 37: 16 (August 

15) 16. 
1975h "We Are Moving Into a New World." BMH 37:16 

(August 15) 17. 
1 975i "What Does the Future Hold?" BMH 37:4 (February 1 5) 

1976a "The Fear of the Lord." BMH 38:16 (August 15) 

1976b "Grace Schools' Accreditation Appraisal." BMH 38: 14 

(July 15) 14-15. 
1976c "The Key to the Riddle of the Universe." BMH 38:2 

(January 15)20-21. 
1976d "A New Peace Academy." BMH 38:4 (February 15) 

1976e "Peace is Departing from the Earth." BMH 38:6 

(March 15) 16-17. 
1977a "Dispensational Premillennialism." Pp. 63-92 in 77?^ 

Meaning of the Millennium: Four Views, ed. by 

Robert G. Clouse. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity. 

Trans, into German, 1983. 
1977b The First Christian Theology: Studies in Romans. 

Winona Lake: BMH Books; and Grand Rapids: 

Baker Book House. 187 pp. 
1977c Is the United States in Prophecy? Winona Lake: BMH 

Books. 16 pp. 
1977d Studies in Revelation. Winona Lake: BMH Books. 148 

pp. Revision of The Revelation of the Lord Jesus 

Christ, 1966. 
1 980 Foreword to the Third Edition, pp. 1 9-2 1 of Millennial- 

ism: The Two Major Views, by Charles L. Feinberg. 

Chicago: Moody Press. 372 pp. 
1981a "James L. Boyer: A Biographical Sketch." GTJ 2:2 

(Fall) 167-70. 
1981b "Nonresistance." Pp. 27-77 of War: Four Christian 

Views, ed. by Robert G. Clouse. Downers Grove, IL: 

1983a "Alva J. McClain." Pp. 772-73 of The Brethren 

Encyclopedia, vol. 2. Philadelphia: The Brethren 

1983b "The Purpose and Program of the Prophetic Word." 

G 77 4:2 (Fall) 163-71. 

ibach: hoyt: a select bibliography 199 

1983c Studies in 2 Peter. Winona Lake: BMH Books. 133 pp. 
1984 "Alva J. McClain: Faithful, Honorable, Diligent." 
Fundamentalist Journal 3:4 (April) 44-46. 

Grace TheologicalJournal 6.2 (1985) 201-217 


John C. Whitcomb 

The future function of the millennial temple (Ezekiel 40-48) has 
long been problematic for dispensationalists in view of the finished 
work of Christ. Light is shed on this problem by noting the original 
theocratic purpose of OT sacrifices. This purpose was functionally 
distinct from that of the redemptive work of Christ. Millennial sacri- 
fices will not simply memorialize Christ's redemption but will primarily 
function in restoring theocratic harmony. The differences between the 
Old Covenant stipulations and those of Ezekiel 40-48 can be accounted 
for in terms of this solution. 


How does the atoning work of the Lord Jesus Christ relate to the 
animal sacrifices which God gave to Israel through Moses? 
What did the blood of these animals accomplish for believing and/ or 
unbelieving Israelites during the days of the Old Covenant theocracy? 
How does that Old Covenant sacrificial system compare with the 
New Covenant system envisioned in Ezekiel 40-48 and other OT 
prophets, especially in the light of the NT book of Hebrews? 

A wide difference of opinion still exists in this important aspect 
of biblical theology. It is the thesis of this study that the answers to 
these questions lie in the recognition that there are distinct functions 
in the plan of God for the blood of sacrificial animals and for the 

*The author expresses his appreciation to John A. Sproule, Professor of New 
Testament and Greek, Grace Theological Seminary, for his careful interaction with this 
study, especially from the perspective of the Book of Hebrews; and to Richard E. 
Averbeck, Assistant Professor of Old Testament and Hebrew, for his keen insights on 
Old Testament covenants and the function of "atonement" in Leviticus and Ezekiel. 
Research papers by the following graduate students at Grace Theological Seminary 
have also been of considerable assistance: David R. Webb (1980), Robert L. Maziasz 
(1980), and David C. Wagner (1985). 


precious blood of Jesus Christ. This distinction is especially significant 
for understanding the reinstatement of animal sacrifices in the future 
millennial kingdom of Christ. 


The atoning work of Jesus Christ is infinite in value, and is 
therefore eternally sufficient and efficacious for those who put their 
trust in him. This truth is clearly and repeatedly taught in the NT and 
is therefore fundamental to the Christian faith. The book of Hebrews 
especially emphasizes the contrast between the substitutionary work 
of Christ and the blood of bulls and goats in the Mosaic/ Levitical/ 
Aaronic system of the Old Covenant. The following statements make 
this clear: "the Law made nothing perfect" (7:19); "both gifts and 
sacrifices are offered which cannot make the worshipper perfect in 
conscience" (9:9); "the Law . . . can never by the same sacrifices year 
by year . . . make perfect those who draw near" (10:1); "it is impossible 
for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins" (10:4); "[animal] 
sacrifices . . . can never take away sin" (10:1 1); "where there is forgive- 
ness of these things, there is no longer any offering for sin" (10:18). 
Thus, the New Covenant, in which the NT Church has its soterio- 
logical foundations (Heb 8:6-13; cf. Luke 22:20; 1 Cor 11:25; 2 Cor 
3:6; Heb 12:24), is infinitely superior to the Old Covenant of Moses, 
which was indeed "only a shadow of the good things to come" (Heb 

Does this mean, then, that Israel, the chosen theocratic nation, 
with its unconditional Abrahamic Covenant guarantee of a land (Gen 
12:1; 13:14-17; 15:18-21; Deut 30:5) and divine blessing (Gen 12:2-3) 
has been forever set aside nationally in favor of the Church?^ This has 

Cf. Homer A. Kent, Jr., The Epistle to the Hebrews: A Commentary (Winona 
Lake, IN: BMH, 1972) 155-60. 

^The Abrahamic Covenant was unconditional only in the sense that God's sovereign 
grace guaranteed the ultimate spiritual salvation of Israel as a nation and great spiritual 
blessings to the nations through Abraham's ultimate Seed. It did not guarantee the 
regeneration of all his physical descendants. "An unconditional covenant . . . may have 
blessings attached to that covenant that are conditioned upon the response of the 
recipient of the covenant . . . but these conditioned blessings do not change the un- 
conditional character of that covenant" (J. Dwight Pentecost, Things to Comf [Grand 
Rapids; Zondervan, 1964] 68). Cf. Charles C. Ryrie, The Basis of Premillennial Faith 
(New York: Loizeaux, 1953) 48-75. The Abrahamic/New Covenant and the Mosaic 
Covenant are not in contradiction with each other. God promised, "I will put My 
law within them, and on their heart 1 will write it" (Jer 31:33; Rom 2:25-29; 8:3-4; 
Heb 7:18-19). The reappearance of some aspects of the Mosaic ritual during the 
Millennium will not necessarily, therefore, be a contradiction to the dynamics of the 
New Covenant. This seems to harmonize with Jesus' statement in the Upper Room: "I 
have earnestly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer; for I say unto you, 
I shall never again eat it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God" (Luke 22:15-16). 


indeed been the conclusion of many Christian theologians from the 
days of the church fathers down to modern times. Israel as a national 
entity is seen as apostate and therefore broken off forever as a distinct 
nation in the program of God. 


However, the NT, including the book of Hebrews, does not teach 
that Israel has been forever set aside. It does teach the end of the Old 
Covenant given by God to Israel through Moses. Yet it does not reject 
the Abrahamic Covenant (which the New Covenant of Jeremiah 31 
further elaborates). During the period from the death of Christ and the 
Day of Pentecost to the destruction of the Temple and the Jewish 
sacrificial system by Roman armies in a.d. 70, Jewish Christians were 
strongly pressured by their "kinsmen according to the flesh" to aban- 
don the distinctive freedoms they found in the Christian gospel and to 
turn to a supposedly Mosaic legalistic belief (cf. Acts 15; Galatians 3). 
It was to such Christian believers that the author of Hebrews empha- 
sized the shadowy insufficiency and temporary nature of the Mosaic 
covenant. He was not addressing Old Covenant national Israel, as 
were Jeremiah and Ezekiel, but professing members of the true 

The contrast in Hebrews, then, is not between the Church and 
Israel under the New Covenant, or between the spiritual sacrifices 
offered by the Church (Heb 13:15) and the animal sacrifices which 
Israel will someday offer under the New Covenant. It is rather between 
the shadowy, insufficient nature of the Old Covenant and the suf- 
ficient, permanent nature of the New Covenant. The Church par- 
ticipates soteriologically in the New Covenant which was originally 
revealed by God through Jeremiah and Ezekiel with reference to a 
repentant Israel in the coming Kingdom age (Jer 31:33-34; Ezek 
11:19-20; 36:25-28). The sufficiency of the New Covenant is guar- 
anteed in the spiritual regeneration of all its participants.^ 


The Church was graciously placed into a New Covenant relation- 
ship with God, but it did not thereby replace national Israel. This is ex- 
plained in Rom 1 1:1 1-32. During the present age, national/ theocratic 

'Cf. Kent, Hebrews, 158-59: "the author [of Hebrews] is writing to Christians 
when he mentions the new covenant. It is granted that they are Jewish Christians, but 
the fact remains that they are Christians. . . . There is one new covenant to be fulfilled 
eschatologically with Israel, but participated in soteriologically by the church today." 

"""New Covenant" translates 5ia9r|Kri(; Kaivri(; in Heb 8:8; 9:15; and SiaGfiKtiq Mtac, 
in 1:24. 

'Kent, Hebrews, 153. 


Israel has indeed been "rejected" (11:15) and "broken off" (1 1:17-22) 
because of "transgression," "failure," and "unbelief" (11:11, 12, 23). 
But that is by no means the end of Israel as a nation, for "Israel did 
not stumble so as to fall" (1 1:1 1). Some day, in fact, it will experience 
divine "fulfillment" (1 1:12) and "acceptance" (11:15). Indeed, "God is 
able to graft them in again ... if they do not continue in their 
unbelief" (1 1:23). This will, in a sense, be "easier" for God to accom- 
plish for them as "natural branches" than it was for God to graft 
Gentiles in "contrary to nature" (1 1:24), for Israel will be grafted back 
into the "rich root" (11:17) of "their own olive tree" (11:24; cf. John 
4:22, "salvation is from the Jews"). This refers to God's New Covenant 
provision for Israel which was revealed through Jeremiah and Ezekiel 
and rooted in the Abrahamic Covenant (cf. Rom 4:11-17, "the faith 
of Abraham, who is the father of us all"). The fact that the church 
participates in the soteriological benefits of the Abrahamic and New 
Covenants (cf. Eph 2:12-13) is a major factor which demonstrates 
continuity between Israel and the Church. But it hardly demonstrates 
that the Church has supplanted Israel in God's program.^ Indeed, "the 
gifts and the calling of God" are "irrevocable" (Rom 1 1:29). Likewise, 
the Christian can be assured of his eternal salvation in Christ (cf. Rom 
8:28-39; Phil 1:6) only because God keeps his covenant promises. 


The New Covenant, originally promised to Israel as a nation 
(Gen. 12:1-3; Jer 31:33-34), now provides the Church with the infinite 
and eternal benefits of the substitutionary blood of Christ. But what 
did the New Covenant originally involve? It involved God's pro- 
vision for a new heart through the Holy Spirit (i.e., regeneration; cf. 
Ezek 36:26-27) for the entire nation of Israel; the restoration of this 

C. E. B. Cranfield (A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Epistle to the 
Romans [2 vols.; ICC; Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, 1975] 2. 448, for example, concludes 
that "it is only where the Church persists in refusing to learn this message [of Romans 
9-11]... that it is unable to believe in God's mercy for still unbelieving Israel, and so 
entertains the ugly and unscriptural notion that God has cast off His people Israel and 
simply replaced it with the Christian Church. These three chapters emphatically forbid 
us to speak of the Church as having once and for all taken the place of the Jewish 
people." Then he adds in a footnote, "And I confess with shame to having also myself 
used in print on more than one occasion this language of the replacement of Israel by 
the Church." Cf. his more recent Romans: A Shorter Commentary (Grand Rapids: 
Eerdmans, 1985) 215, 273. See also John Murray, The Epistle to the Romans (NICNT; 
2 vols.; Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1964) 2. 98; and Arnold A. Van Ruler, The Christian 
Church and the Old Testament (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1971) 45, 55, 57, 75-98 
(extensively quoted in Earl D. Radmacher, "The Current Status of Dispensationalism 
and Its Eschatology" in K. S. Kantzer and S. N. Gundry, eds.. Perspectives on Evan- 
gelical Theology [Grsind Rapids: Baker, 1979] 172-74). 


regenerated nation to its ancestral land (Ezek 36:28 — previously guar- 
anteed by the Abrahamic Covenant, and not annulled by the Mosaic 
Covenant [Gal 3:17]); and a dynamic, functioning theocracy of twelve 
tribes gathered around a great new city and temple (Ezekiel 40-48; 
cf. Joel 3:18; Dan 9:24; Hag 2:7, 9; and Zech 14:16-21). Indeed, eight 
centuries before the New Covenant was described in detail by Jeremiah 
and Ezekiel, Moses, the human spokesman for the Old Covenant, 
foresaw the basic provision of the New Covenant, namely a national 
restoration of Israel to her promised land by God's sovereign grace 
through regeneration of the heart (Deut 30:1-14). 

Remarkably, even the ultimate passing away of the Aaronic high 
priesthood for Israel was indicated at an early stage in the progress of 
revelation when God announced through David concerning his greater 
son, a non-Levite, "Thou art a priest forever according to the order 
of Melchizedek" (Psa 1 10:4; cf. Hebrews 7). When the New Covenant 
is fulfilled for Israel, therefore, her high priest will be none other than 
her Messiah, and not a descendant of Aaron. This is a fact of 
tremendous importance in the light of Ezekiel 40-48, which conspicu- 
ously omits any reference to a Zadokian high priest (cf. Ezek 40:46 
which states that only the descendants of Zadok out of the descen- 
dants of Aaron would minister before Yahweh), and the book of 
Hebrews, which identifies Jesus Christ as the permanent High Priest 
of God's people. 

A century before Jeremiah and Ezekiel, the prophet Isaiah also 
foresaw this New Covenant system, even though he did not use the 
technical term. In the deepening gloom of national apostasy under 
Ahaz and even godly king Hezekiah, the prince of writing prophets 
spoke of "an everlasting covenant" which God would make with Israel 
"according to the faithful mercies shown to David" (55:3; cf. 61:8). 
That this anticipated the New Covenant is confirmed by the fact that 
a national forgiveness of sin is included (59:20-21, cf. 27:9; Rom 1 1:26- 
27). Isaiah not only foresaw God's New Covenant with Israel, but 
also a temple in the holy land (2:2-3; 56:3; 60:13). Here animal sacri- 
fices would be offered on its altar by Egyptians (19:21) and Arabians 
from Kedar and Nebaioth (60:7), through "priests and Levites" (66:21), 
so that "foreigners who join themselves to the Lord . . . even these I 
will bring to My holy mountain and make them joyful in my house of 
prayer. Their burnt offerings and their sacrifices will be acceptable on 
My altar" (56:6-7; cf. 66:19-20). 

To Hosea, Isaiah's contemporary prophet in the northern king- 
dom, the wonders of this great New Covenant were also revealed 
(Hos 2:14-23). Hosea implied that after "many days" during which 
the nation would be "without king or prince," animal "sacrifices" 
would be resumed "in the last days" (3:4-5). 


Jeremiah lived to see the final collapse of the politically in- 
dependent theocracy of Israel (609-586 B.C.). To him the expression 
"a new covenant" was first revealed. This New Covenant included the 
offering of animals upon the altar of a temple in the holy land. 
Looking back to the Davidic Covenant (which was one aspect of the 
Abrahamic Covenant), the God of Israel announced: "I will cause a 
righteous Branch of David to spring forth. . . . David shall never lack 
a man to sit on the throne of the house of Israel" (33:15, 17; cf. vv 21, 
22, 26). Then he added these significant words: "and the Levitical 
priests shall never lack a man before me" (33:18; cf. vv 21, 22). Thus, 
Jeremiah, in stating the total demise of the temporary Old Covenant 
(31:32), and in anticipating the national regeneration provided in the 
permanent New Covenant (31:31-34; 32:38-40; 33:6-13; 50:5), in- 
cluded animal sacrifices offered by Levitical priests as permanent 
aspects of this New Covenant for national Israel. 

Ezekiel was the third major prophet who spoke of Israel's ever- 
lasting covenant of peace, designated in 16:60-63; 20:37; 34:25; 37:21- 
28; and described soteriologically in 11: 19-20 and 36:25-28. Included 
in this covenant was provision for "My sanctuary in their midst 
forever" (37:26, 28). In amazing detail, this sanctuary or temple is 
described in chapters 40-48 with regard to (1) the precise dimensions 
and arrangements of its courts, gates, chambers and furnishings 
(40:5-43:27); (2) its officials, including the mortal prince (44:3; 45:7, 
16, 22; 46:2-18) and the Levitical descendants of Zadok (who replaced 
Abiathar as David's faithful high priest) who would serve as priests 
(40:46; 43:19; 44:10-31; 46:20-24; 48:11); (3) the different types and 
characteristics and purposes of its animal sacrifices (40:38-43; 42:13; 
43:18-27; 45:15-25; 46:2-15; 46:20-24; cf. 20:40); and (4) the bound- 
aries and dimensions of the tribal territories surrounding the city and 
the temple with its life-giving river (47:1-48:35). 

Other prophets who spoke of the future temple were Joel (3:18), 
Micah (4:1-5), Daniel (9:24), and Haggai (2:7, 9). Zechariah foresaw 
the strict enforcement of the Feast of Tabernacles among all Gentile 
nations (14:16-19; cf. Ezek 45:25). Zechariah also anticipated, in con- 
nection with the fulfillment of the New Covenant (9:11; 13:1), that 
"all who sacrifice will come and take [every cooking pot in Jerusalem] 
and boil in them" (14:21). 


How should Christian participants in the New Covenant view 
these prophetic utterances concerning a restoration of national Israel 
to its land, complete with temple, Zadokian priests, and animal sacri- 
fices, especially in the light of the emphatic pronouncements of the 
book of Hebrews? Liberal and Neo-orthodox theologians dismiss 

whitcomb: Christ's atonement and animal sacrifices 207 

Ezekiel's temple vision as an apocalyptic dreamj or a tentative plan 
for the second temple which the returning exiles never adopted. Most 
conservative commentators assume that the covenants of God with 
Israel are being fulfilled in the Church^ and/ or refer somehow to the 
eternal state. '° Even some premillennialists, finding it difficult to 
reconcile animal sacrifices in the millennium with the book of 
Hebrews, conclude that Israel's new covenant will indeed eventuate in 
national conversion and divine blessing in Palestine for a thousand 
years, but without a temple, priests, and sacrifices." 

Keenly sensitive to the tensions and problems involved in this 
theological controversy, the dispensationalist John F. Walvoord sug- 
gests that "the literalness of the future temple and its sacrificial system 

'Cf. Moshe Greenberg, "The Design and Themes of Ezekiel's Program of Restora- 
tion," Int 38 (1984) 181-208; John W. Wevers, Ezekiel {The New Century Bible 
Commentary, Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1969) 207; and Jon Douglas Levenson, 
Theology of the Program of Restoration of Ezekiel 40-48 (Missoula, MT: Scholars, 
1976) 161-63. Surprisingly, this position is also advocated by John B. Taylor, Ezekiel: 
An Introduction and Commentary (London: Tyndale, 1969) 253. 

.Among those who have held this view are Eichhorn, Dathe, Herder, Doederlein, 
and Hitzig. These are cited in Patrick Fairbairn, An Exposition of Ezekiel {EvansviWe, 
!N: Sovereign Grace, reprint 1960) 433. 

'Cf. Fairbairn, Ezekiel, 435: "from the Fathers downward this has been the prevail- 
ing view in the Christian Church." See also Andrew W. Blackwood, Jr., Ezekiel: 
Prophecy of Hope (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1965) 235, 270. Typical of Blackwood's 
dubious hermeneutics is his discussion of the centrality of the altar in Ezek 40:17: 
"Many Protestants today are carefully ignoring God's message to us through Ezekiel's 
placement of the altar. . . . Today in the beautiful new Roman Catholic churches that 
are being constructed the sacramental table is brought away from the wall; so that the 
congregation, insofar as it is physically possible, surrounds the table. Ezekiel certainly 
is telling us that church architecture should be an expression of theology" (pp. 240-41). 

'°Cf. Anthony A. Hoekema, The Bible and the Future (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 
1979) 205-6; H. L. Ellison, Ezekiel: The Man and His Message (Grand Rapids: 
Eerdmans, 1956) 137-44; and C. F. Keil, Commentary on the Old Testament (10 vols.; 
Grand Rapids: Zondervan, reprint n.d.) 9. 417. For a list of contrasts between Ezekiel 
40-48 and Revelation 21-22, cf. Ralph Alexander, Ezekiel (Ch\ca.go: Moody, 1976) 

"Cf. Increase Mather, The Mystery of Israel's Salvation, vol. 22 in A Library of 
American Puritan Writings, ed. Sacvan Bercovitch (New York: AMS, 1983) 113-14; 
George N. H. Peters, The Theocratic Kingdom (Grand Rapids: Kregel, reprint 1952) 
3. 83-91; H. A. Ironside, Ezekiel the Prophet (New York: Loizeaux, 1949) 284-90; and 
J. Sidlow Baxter, Explore the Book (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, I960) 4. 32. Erich Sauer 
(From Eternity to Eternity [Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1954] 181) has provided a 
wholesome perspective on the basic hermeneutical issue: ""Either the prophet himself 
was mistaken in his expectation of a coming temple service, and the prophecy in the 
sense in which he himself meant it will never be fulfilled; or God, in the time of the 
Messiah, will fulfill literally these prophecies of the temple according to their intended 
literal meaning. There is no other choice possible." For an excellent analysis of the 
current tensions, see David L. Turner, "The Continuity of Scripture and Eschatology: 
Key Hermeneutical Issues" in this issue of GTJ. 


is not inseparable from the premillennial concept of the millennium 
and, though in keeping with the general principles of literal interpreta- 
tion, is not the sine qua non of millenniallism." He significantly 
concludes, however, that "the most thoroughgoing students of pre- 
millennialism who evince understanding of the relation of literal 
interpretation to premillennial doctrine usually embrace the concept 
of a literal temple and literal sacrifices."'^ Without doubt, the large 
majority of dispensational premillennialists do interpret the Zadokian 
priesthood and animal sacrifices of the millennial age literally. They 
also attempt to modify the supposed clash between the OT prophecies 
of the New Covenant and the book of Hebrews by viewing these 
animal sacrifices strictly as memorials of the death of Christ, like the 
Church eucharist of the bread and cup.'^ Such an approach may be 
questioned, however. 

The key to the entire problem may be found in answers to three 
questions. (1) What was the true function of animal sacrifices in the 
Old Covenant? (2) What is the significance of the fundamental dif- 
ferences between Ezekiel's picture of the New Covenant system of 
worship and the Old Covenant system of worship? (3) Would a 
worship system involving animal sacrifices necessarily represent a 
great step backward for New Covenant Israel during the Kingdom 


In answer to the first question, animal sacrifices could never 
remove spiritual guilt from the offerer. The book of Hebrews is very 
clear about that (10:4, 11). But it is equally erroneous to say that the 
sacrifices were mere teaching symbols given by God to Israel to pre- 
pare them for Messiah and his infinite atonement. Such a view is 
contradicted by precise statements in Exodus and Leviticus.'" From 

'^John F. Walvoord, The Millennial Kingdom (Findlay, OH: Dunham, 1959) 315; 
cf. p. 311. 

"Cf. Walvoord, The Millennial Kingdom, 312. Progressive revelation requires that 
millennial believers (who will constitute a decreasing proportion of the world's popula- 
tion as the Kingdom age continues) will be reminded of the sacrifice of the Lamb of 
God when they behold the shedding of animal blood at the Temple altar. Cf. Arno C. 
Gaebelein, The Prophet Ezekiel {New York: Our Hope, 1918) 311-13. However, that 
will not be their sole purpose and function. 

""Cf. John S. Feinberg, "Salvation in the Old Testament," in Tradition and 
Testament: Essays in Honor of Charles Lee Feinberg, John S. and Paul D. Feinberg, 
eds. (Chicago: Moody, 1981) 70. Cf. Charles C. Ryrie, Dispensalionalism Today 
(Chicago: Moody, 1965) 127-31. Ryrie correctly concludes: "The basis of salvation is 
always the death of Christ; the means is always faith; the object is always God (though 
man's understanding of God before and after the incarnation is obviously different); 
but the content of faith depends on the particular revelation God was pleased to give at 

whitcomb: Christ's atonement and animal sacrifices 209 

God's perspective, this was surely a major purpose of animal sacri- 
fices; but it could not have been their exclusive purpose from the 
perspective of Old Covenant Israelites. 

The Scriptures tell us that something really did happen to the 
Israelite offerer when he came to the right altar with the appropriate 
sacrifice; and he was expected to know what would happen to him. 
What happened was temporal, finite, external, and legal — not eternal, 
infinite, internal, and soteriological. Nevertheless, what happened was 
personally and immediately significant, not simply symbolic and/ or 
prophetic. When an Israelite "unwittingly failed" to observe a par- 
ticular ordinance of the Mosaic Law (in the weakness of his sin 
nature [Num 15:22-29], not "defiantly," in open rebellion against 
God himself [Num 15:30-36]),^^ he was actually "forgiven" through 
an "atonement" (a ritual cleansing; cf. Heb 9:10, 13) made by the 
priest (Num 15:25-26). 

But what was the precise nature of this "forgiveness" and this 
"atonement"? To say that it was exclusively a prophetic anticipation 
of Christ's atoning work does not do justice to the progress of revela- 
tion.'^ There simply is no biblical evidence that the knowledge-content 
of OT saving faith always and necessarily included a crucified Messiah. 
However, in God's eternal purpose, the death of his son has always 
been and always will be the final basis of spiritual salvation (Rom 3:25- 
26). Saving faith before the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2) involved a 
heart response to whatever special revelation of God was available 
at that time in history (cf. Romans 4; Galatians 3; Hebrews 11). 
Such Spirit-initiated faith produced a "circumcised heart" (Lev 26:41; 
Deut 10:16; 30:6; Jer 4:4; 9:25; Ezek 44:7, 9). No one was ever spir- 
itually regenerated by works, not even by fulfilling legally prescribed 
sacrifices, offerings and other Mosaic requirements.'^ 

In the covenant at Sinai, God provided a highly complex and 
rigid structure for his "kingdom of priests." Within that structure, 
national/ theocratic transgressions would receive national/ theocratic 
forgiveness when appropriate sacrifices were offered to God through 
legitimate priests at the tabernacle/ temple altar. This "forgiveness" 

a certain time. These are the distinctions which the dispensationaHst recognizes, and 
they are distinctions necessitated by plain interpretation of reVelation as it was given" 

"Cf. Walter C. Kaiser, Jr., Toward An Old Testament Theology (Grand Rapids: 
Zondervan, 1978) 117-18. 

"Cf. John S. Feinberg, "Salvation in the Old Testament," 50. 51, 53, 55, 68. See 
also Ryrie, Dispensationalism Today 127-28: "Unquestionably the Old Testament does 
ascribe efficacy to the sacrifices. . . . The bringing of sacrifices restored the offender to 
his forfeited position as a Jewish worshipper and restored his theocratic relationship." 

'^Feinberg, "Salvation in the Old Testament," 61. 


was promised regardless of the spiritual state of either the offerer or 
the priest. However, such sacrificial blood could never cleanse the 
conscience or save the soul (Heb 10:1-2), so God repeatedly sent 
prophets to call his people to love and obey their God from the heart. 
Apart from such genuine faith, all the ceremonially "kosher" animals 
in the whole world would avail nothing in the spiritual realm (Ps 50:7- 
15; Isa 1:12-20; Amos 4:4-5; 5:20-27; Hos 5:6; Mic 6:6-8; Jer 6:20; 
7:21-23). It was not to be either faith or sacrifices; rather, it was to be 
both faith and sacrifices (cf. Ps 51:19). 

It was just as true then as it is today: "it is impossible for the 
blood of bulls and goats to take away sins" (Heb 10:4). But it was 
also true then, under the Old Covenant, that "the blood of bulls and 
goats . . . sanctify for the cleansing of the flesh" (Heb 9:13). In the 
words of F. F. Bruce, 

the blood of slaughtered animals under the old order did possess a 
certain efficacy, but it was an outward efficacy for the removal of 
ceremonial pollution. . . . They could restore [the worshipper] to formal 
communion with God and with his fellow-worshippers. . . . Just how 
the blood of sacrificed animals or the ashes of a red heifer effected a 
ceremonial cleansing our author does not explain; it was sufficient for 
him, and no doubt for his readers, that the Old Testament ascribed this 
efficacy to them}^ 

This was the unique tension within the theocracy of Israel that many 
Christian theologians apparently do not comprehend. 

Now what does all of this indicate with regard to animal sacrifices 
in the millennial Temple for Israel under the New Covenant? It indi- 
cates that future sacrifices will have nothing to do with eternal salva- 
tion which only comes through true faith in God. It also indicates 
that future animal sacrifices will be "efficacious" and "expiatory" 
only in terms of the strict provision for ceremonial (and thus temporal) 
forgiveness within the theocracy of Israel. Thus, animal sacrifices 
during the coming Kingdom age will not be primarily memorial (like 
the eucharist in church communion services), any more than sacrifices 
in the age of the Old Covenant were primarily prospective or prophetic 
in the understanding of the offerer. 

'*F. F. Bruce, The Epistle to the Hebrews (NICNT; Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 
1964) 201, 204. Italics added. In a personal communication. Professor John A. Sproule 
noted that "to argue from the present tense of ayidi^ei in Hebrews 9:13 that such things 
(i.e., the blood of bulls and goats and the sprinkling of the ashes of a heifer) would still 
sanctify defiled persons, as such ceremonies might still be carried out in Jewish sects at 
the time during which the author of Hebrews was writing, is unnecessary. The present 
tense (aspect) in New Testament Greek is much more flexible. The present tense 
(ayid^ei) could be used here simply for dramatic effect or vividness." 

whitcomb: Christ's atonement and animal sacrifices 211 

It is at this point that premillennial theologians exhibit differ- 
ences. A. C. Gaebelein expressed, perhaps, the majority opinion when 
he wrote: "While the sacrifices Israel brought once had a prospective 
meaning, the sacrifices brought in the millennial Temple have a 
retrospective meaning."'^ Ezekiel, however, does not say that animals 
will be offered for a "memorial" of Messiah's death. Rather, they will 
be for "atonement" (45:15, 17, 20; cf. 43:20, 26). 

The Hebrew word used to describe the purpose of these sacrifices in 
Ezekiel 45:15, 17, and 20 is the piel form of kaphar. . . . But this is 
precisely the word used in the Pentateuchal description of the OT 
sacrifices to indicate their. . .expiatory purpose (cf. Lev 6:30; 8:15; 
16:6, 11, 24, 30, 32, 33, 34; Num 5:8; 15:28; 29:5). If the sacrifices 
mentioned in Ezekiel are to be understood literally, they must be 
expiatory, not memorial offerings. ^'^ 

The distinction between ceremonial and spiritual atonement is by no 
means a minor one, for it is at the heart of the basic difference 
between the theocracy of Israel and the Church, the Body and Bride 
of Christ. It also provides a more consistent hermeneutical approach 
for dispensational premillennialism. 

In his analysis of atonement in the OT, Richard E. Averbeck has 
shown that the Hebrew term "IDD, used so frequently in Leviticus, 
does not mean "to cover," but rather "to appease, expiate, or cleanse." 

Only Christ's sacrifice was of the kind that could form the basis for 
eternal and spiritual salvation (Heb 9:15). But this in no way refutes 
the . . . efficacy in the Old Testament atonement sacrifices. Those sacri- 
fices had to do with the covenant relationship between God and the 
nation of Israel. Eternal or spiritual salvation was not the issue. There- 
fore, the animal sacrifices of the Old Testament and the sacrifice of 
Christ in the New Testament were effective at their own respective [and 
totally different] levels.^' 

"Gaebelein, The Prophet Ezekiel, 312. For a listing and analysis of other 19th and 
early 20th century proponents of literal sacrifices in the Millennium (e.g., Adolph 
Saphir, William Kelly, Nathanael West, W. Haslam, Burlington B. Wade, John Fry, 
and H. Bonar), cf. John L. Mitchell, "The Question of Millennial Sacrifices," BSac 
1 10:439 (1953) 248-67. George N. H. Peters (T/jf Theocratic Kingdom. 3. 83, 88) also 
mentions D. N. Lord, Tyso, Shimeall, Begg, Baumgarten (in Herzog's Encyclopedia, 
"Ezekiel"), Auberlen, Hofman, and Volch. 

^"Hoekema, The Bible and the Future, 204, n. 16. 

^'Richard E. Averbeck, "An Exegetical Study of Leviticus 1:4 With a Discussion 
of the Nature of Old Testament Atonement," (unpublished M.Div. thesis; Winona 
Lake, IN: Grace Theological Seminary, 1977) 68. Personal communication with Aver- 
beck in February, 1985, indicated several modifications in his thesis which are reflected 
in the present study. He prefers the term "quasi-physical" to describe OT sacrifice and 
ritual, his understanding being bound up in a thorough rethinking of the Levitical 
system as to its perspectives, details, and theological implications. 


With respect to the millennium, Averbeck concludes: 

This accords well with the issue of the millennial sacrifices mentioned 
in Ezekiel. These rituals will not be memorials. They will atone ... in 
the same efficacious way as the ones in Aaronic times. Why will this be 
necessary? Because God will again be dwelling, in His glory, among 
[mortal] men. . . . Christ did not shed His blood for the cleansing of 
any physical altar. Therefore, the special rite for the yearly cleansing of 
the millennial sanctuary will be required (Ezek 45:18-20). Regular sacri- 
fices will be reinstituted in the millennium. ^^ 

In the light of these considerations, it is significant that Anthony 
A. Hoekema, a contemporary amillennial theologian, levels one of his 
heaviest criticisms of premillennialism at this very point: 

Extremely significant is the note on page 888 of the New Scofield Bible 
which suggests the following as a possible interpretation of the sacrifices 
mentioned in these chapters of Ezekiel's prophecy: "The reference to 
sacrifices is not to be taken literally, in view of the putting away of 
such offerings, but is rather to be regarded as a presentation of the 
worship of redeemed Israel, in her own land and in the millennial 
temple, using the terms with which the Jews were familiar in Ezekiel's 
day." These words convey a far-reaching concession on the part of 
dispensationalists. If the sacrifices are not to be taken Uterally, why 
should we take the temple literally? It would seem that the dispensa- 
tional principle of the literal interpretation of Old Testament prophecy 
is here abandoned,, and that a crucial foundation stone for the entire 
dispensational system has here been set aside!^^ 

Hoekema 's objection is well taken. However, he assumes, along with 
many nondispensational theologians, that animal sacrifices in the 
millennium would involve a reinstitution of the Mosaic economy, just 
as if Christ had never died. Oswald T. AUis, another Reformed 

^^Ibid., 68-69. In a personal communication, Averbeck suggested that the "cleans- 
ing of the sanctuary" (= "you shall make atonement for the house") during the first 
week of the first month constitutes the millennial form of the ancient Day of 
Atonement. Moshe Greenberg ("The Design and Themes of Ezekiel's Program of 
Restoration," 197, n. 34) notes that "Medieval Hebrew commentators (e.g., Kimchi) 
identify these purgations [Ezek 45:18-20] with those of the altar consecration in 43:18- 
26 and both with a supposed future parallel to the week-long ceremonies inaugurating 
the desert tabernacle (Ex 40; cf. 29:35f). By thus interpreting our passage as a one-time 
ceremony, they obviated the contradiction that would have otherwise arisen between 
Ezekiel's annual Temple purgation that occurs in the spring (first month) and that of 
Lev 16 (the day of atonement) that occurs in the fall." 

"Hoekema, The Bible and the Future, 204. The footnote cited by Hoekema in The 
New Scofield Reference Bible ([New York: Oxford, 1967] 888, n. 1) actually offers this 
view as the second of "two answers" to the animal sacrifice problem in Ezek 43:19 
which "have been suggested." It is, nevertheless, a serious concession. 

whitcomb: Christ's atonement and animal sacrifices 213 

theologian, stated, for example: "Literally interpreted, this means the 
restoration of the Aaronic priesthood and of the Mosaic ritual of 
sacrifices essentially unchanged."^'' That this is not the case will be 
demonstrated next. 


Ezekiel's picture of millennial worship and the Mosaic system 
which had been established nine hundred years earlier exhibit funda- 
mental differences. OT scholars have often wrestled with the signifi- 
cance of these differences. Andrew W. Blackwood, Jr., does not 
hesitate to call them "discrepancies," hastening to assure his readers 

they concern matters that make no earthly difference to Christian faith, 
however they may have jarred the sensibilities of our Jewish forebears. 
There are twenty major discrepancies between Ezekiel and the Torah. 
Compare 46:6f. with Numbers 28: 11, for example. Here are outright con- 
tradictions in the number of bullocks, lambs, and rams and the amount 
of flour to be used at the new moon offering ceremonies. . . . Long ago 
the rabbis were driven to say that Elijah, when he came, would explain 
away the difficulties. They said likewise that the entire prophecy would 
have been excluded from the canon were it not for the devoted labor of 
Rabbi Hanina ben Hezekiah, a scholar of the first century a.d., who 
must have written an extensive commentary on Ezekiel: "Three hundred 
barrels of oil were provided for him [for light], and he sat in an upper 
chamber where he reconciled all discrepancies" (Babylonian Talmud, 

It is the view of the present study that there are no discrepancies 
within Scripture, and that God's servants today do not have to wait 
until Elijah appears to discover a theologically and hermeneutically 
satisfactory solution to this problem. 

A century ago, Nathanael West listed some of the important 
differences between Old Covenant Israel and Millennial Israel in order 
to show how appropriate Ezekiel's structure will be for the Kingdom 

If the similarities between [Ezekiel's] portrait of the "Many Days" of 
Israel in the Kingdom, and Israel's former Old Testament life, their 
ritual and laws, are remarkable, still more remarkable are the vast and 
important differences noted by Jews and Christians alike; differences 
so great as to make the [Jews], at one time, almost extrude the book 

^"Oswald T. Allis, Prophecy and the Church (Philadelphia: Presbyterian and 
Reformed, 1945) 246; cf. 245, 248. 

^'Blackwood, Ezekiel: Prophecy of Hope, 21-22. 


from the sacred canon as uninspired. It is plain that these differences 
imply an entire revolution from the old order of things, and intimate 
strongly the '"vanishing away'' of the Law, to make room for the '"New 
Covenant" he has elsewhere, like Jeremiah, Hosea, Isaiah, proclaimed 
with such spiritual force. 

There are changes in the dimensions of the Temple so that it is 
neither the temple of Solomon, nor that of Zerubbabel, nor that of 
Herod; changes in the measures of the outer court, the gates, the walls, 
the grounds, and the locality of the temple itself, raised on a high 
mountain, and even separate from the City. The Holy Places have 
hardly anything like the furniture that stood in the Tabernacle of Moses 
or the Temple of Solomon. 

There are subtractions also. There is no Ark of the Covenant 
[cf. Jer. 3:16], no Pot of Manna, no Aaron's Rod to bud, no Tables 
of the Law, no Cherubim, no Mercy-Seat, no Golden Candlestick, no 
Shew-bread, no Veil, no unapproachable Holy of Holies where the 
High Priest alone might enter, nor is there any High-Priest. . . . The 
priesthood is confined to the sons of Zadok, and only for a special 
purpose. There is no evening sacrifice. . . . The social, moral, and civil 
prescriptions enforced by Moses with such emphasis are all wanting.^* 

William Kelly was fascinated with the fact that there will be 
nothing in the Millennium answering to the Feast of Pentecost. 

The omission seems to me to denote how completely it had been realized 
in the highest sense in the Church, which, as it were, had monopolized 
it. That heavenly body had come in between the true Passover, and 
before the verification of the Tabernacles, and had, so to speak, 
absorbed Pentecost to itself. . . . Who but God Himself could have 
thought of such an omission as that of Pentecost six centuries before it 

In addition to all of this, C. F. Keil, writing from a postmillennial 
perspective, discovered ceremonial and ritual adaptations in Ezekiel's 
vision of Israel's future service for God that he believed to be far 
more appropriate than the Mosaic structure for a post-Calvary eschato- 
logical program. 

According to Ezekiel's order offcasts and sacrifices, Israel was to begin 
every new year of its life with a great sin-offering on the first, seventh, 
and fourteenth days of the first month . . . before it renewed the cove- 
nant of grace with the Lord in the paschal meal . . . and throughout the 
year consecrate its life to the Lord in the daily burnt-offering, through 

^*Nathanael West, The Thousand Years in Both Testaments (New York: Revell, 

"William Kelly, Lectures on the Second Coming of Our Lord Jesus Christ, 267-69. 
Quoted in John L. Mitchell, "The Question of Millennial Sacrifices," 260. 


increased Sabbath-offerings ... in order to live before Him a blameless, 
righteous, and happy life.^^ 

Keil also concluded that the shift "of the chief atoning sacrifices" 
from the seventh month, at the end of the religious year, to the first 
month (for Ezekiel completely eliminates the Feast of Trumpets and 
the Day of Atonement, leaving only the Feast of Tabernacles in the 
seventh month) 

indicates that, for the Israel of the new covenant, this eternally-availing 
atoning sacrifice would form the foundation for all its acts of worship 
and keeping of feasts, as well as for the whole course of its life. It is in 
this that we find the Messianic feature of Ezekiel's order of sacrifices 
and feasts, by which it acquires a character more in accordance with 
the New Testament completion of the sacrificial service, which also 
presents itself to us in the other and still more deeply penetrating 
modifications of the Mosaic torah of sacrifice on the part of Ezekiel 
[which] indicates that the people offering these sacrifices will bring 
forth more of the fruit of sanctification in good works upon the ground 
of the reconciliation which it has received. ^^ 

These are helpful insights, almost unique to a non-premillennial com- 
mentator, for understanding the religious structure of the millennial 
Kingdom age as well as the function of animal sacrifices during that 
time period. Unfortunately, Keil's theological position caused him to 
abandon the literal fulfillment of these prophecies and to denounce 
"M. Baumgarten, Auberlen, and other millenarians [who] express the 
opinion that this shadow-work will be restored after the eventual 
conversion of Israel to Christ, in support of which Baumgarten even 
appeals to the authority of the apostle to the Gentiles [Romans 1 1]."^° 


Consistent dispensationalism must teach the practice of animal 
sacrifices for a restored and regenerated Israel in the Millennium. But 
this raises the third major question: would such a worship system 
necessarily represent a great step backward for New Covenant Israel 
during the Kingdom age? Israel will indeed be under a New Covenant 
program, not the Old Covenant given to Moses which was not 
designed to guarantee salvation. Church communion services will no 
longer be observed, for they have been designed only to "proclaim the 

^*C. F. Keil, Commentary on the Old Testament: Ezekiel (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 
reprint n.d.) 429. 
"ibid., 430. 


Lord's death until he comes" (1 Cor 11:26). But after he comes, 
animal sacrifices within a New Covenant structure, endorsed (though 
not performed — cf. John 4:2 for a possible analogy with the church 
ordinance of water baptism) by the living Lamb of God, will constitute 
a gigantic step forward for Israel, not a reversion to "weak and 
beggarly elements" (Gal 4:9) which actually enslaved the nation be- 
cause of its unregenerate misuse of the Law. 

John A. Sproule has pointed to the principle of progressive 
revelation as a guarantee that millennial Israel will have the entire NT 
available to them, including the Book of Hebrews.^' The two witnesses 
(Revelation 1 1), the 144,000 (Revelation 7), and the Zadokian teaching 
priests functioning in the millennial temple (Ezekiel 40-48) will there- 
fore know considerably more than John the Baptist, Apollos, the 
apostle Paul (who probably never read the book of Revelation), and 
even the apostle John. They will know about the full and finished 
work of the Lord Jesus Christ. They will see no conflict between 
Ezekiel and Hebrews. They will realize that the omission of a high 
priest in Ezekiel 40-48 was not a mistake, just as it is now realized 
that the omission of a genealogy for Melchizedek in Genesis 14 was 
not a mistake (cf. Hebrews 7).^^ Rather, they will recognize this omis- 
sion as God's way of opening the door to the Melchizedekian High 
Priest of Ps 110:4 (cf. Ezek 21:26-27; Zech 6:13: "He will be a priest 
on His throne"), whose visible presence on earth during the coming 
Kingdom age will be the ultimate answer to this dilemma of the ages. 

Believing Jews will experience regeneration and sanctification 
just as Christians do today, by the grace of God and through faith in 
the Lord Jesus. These future Jewish believers will not be glorified 
through seeing Jesus at his coming and in his Kingdom any more 
than the disciples in the Upper Room were glorified when they saw 
their resurrected Lord. However, the concept of progressive revelation 
guarantees that the New Covenant theocracy will begin with more 
knowledge than the Church did at Pentecost. Yet this theocracy 
will retain its distinctive Israelite characteristics — a promised land, 
a temple, appropriate animal sacrifices, and an earthly Zadokian 
priesthood (in that day visibly subordinate to Jesus Christ the 
Melchizedekian High Priest). 

These sacrifices, illumined by a corporate understanding of the 
true significance of the Lamb of God who took away the sin of the 
world, will be appreciated all the more for what they can and cannot 
accomplish for the offerer. For non-glorified millennial Israel and her 
Gentile proselytes throughout the world (e.g., Psalm 87; Isa 60:1-14; 

^'Personal communication, February, 1985. 
"Cf. Bruce, The Epistle to the Hebrews, 136-38. 

whitcomb: Christ's atonement and animal sacrifices 217 

Zech 8:20-23), the continued presence of a sin nature will call for 
constant instruction and exhortation in revealed truth. Not even a 
perfect government will automatically solve this deep, universal prob- 
lem. In distinction from the perfection of the eternal state as described 
in Revelation 21-22, Christ will "rule all the nations with a rod of 
iron" (Rev 12:5; 2:27; 19:15) with strict controls, especially in religious 
practices (cf. Zech 14:16-21). Even though outward submission to 
these religious forms will not necessarily demonstrate a regenerate 
heart (which has been true in every age of human history), it will 
guarantee protection from physical penalties and temporal judgments. 
Those who love the Christ will exhibit a genuine spirit of submission 
to his government. But those who do not truly love him will follow 
Satan (even as Judas Iscariot betrayed Christ after years of observing 
his perfect leadership) in global rebellion at the end of his righteous 
reign, and will be destroyed in cosmic fire (Rev 20:7-9). 


How can vital spiritual instruction be accomplished for citizens 
of the millennial Kingdom age through a system of animal sacrifices? 
If it is theoretically possible (though sadly rare) for the Church today 
to achieve a spiritual, symbolic, and pedagogic balance in the use of 
bread and cup in the Eucharist, then it will be all the more possible 
for regenerated Israel to attain the divinely intended balance between 
form and content, lip and heart, hand and soul, within the structures 
of the New Covenant. It is not only possible, but prophetically certain, 
that millennial animal sacrifices will be used in a God-honoring way 
(e.g., Ps 51:15-19; Heb 11:4) by a regenerated, chosen nation before 
the inauguration of the eternal state when animals will presumably no 
longer exist. 

Before the heavens and the earth flee away from him who sits 
upon the Great White Throne (Rev 20:11), God will provide a final 
demonstration of the validity of animal sacrifices as an instructional 
and disciplinary instrument for Israel. The entire world will see the 
true purpose of this system. Of course, the system never has and 
never will function on the level of Calvary's Cross, where infinite and 
eternal guilt was dealt with once and for all. But the system did 
accomplish, under God, some very important pedagogical and disci- 
plinary purposes for Israel under the Old Covenant (Gal 4:1-7). 
There is good reason to believe that it will yet again, and far more 
successfully from a pedagogical standpoint, function on the level of 
quasi-physical and thus purely temporal cleansing and forgiveness 
(cf. Heb 9:13) within the strict limits of the national theocracy of 
Israel during the one thousand years of Christ's reign upon the earth 
in accordance with the terms of the New Covenant. 

Grace Theological Journal 6.2 (19^5) 219-230 


Charles R. Smith 

Examination of the passages in the OT and the NT speaking of 
"the book of life" and related phrases reveals that early in the OT the 
"book" was related to recipients of conditional covenantal blessings. 
However, by the end of the OT period, there was the beginning of a 
change of significance pointing to the "book" as a list of the recipients 
of the unconditional blessing of eternal life. This significance domi- 
nates the NT use of the phrase. 


SEVERAL frequently asked questions provide the framework for this 
introductory study. These concern (1) whether the Bible mentions 
more than one book of life, (2) whose names are written in it, 
(3) when the names are written in it, and (4) whether names are 
blotted out of the book. 


The Bible refers to several different kinds of divine records. Some 
passages refer to a list of names, some to events, and some to a record 
of deeds. Bible students have suggested a wide variety of classifica- 
tions, but the following adequately summarize the interpretive options: 

1. A list of elect saints, from which no names are ever removed.' 

2. A list of conditionally elected saints, from which those who fail to 
endure are expunged.^ 

3. A list of true believers, from which the names of apostates are later 

'M. Rist, "Life, Book of," Interpreter's Dictionary of the Bible (New York: 
Abingdon, 1962) 3. 130. 1 wish to express appreciation to my colleagues David Turner 
and Donald Fowler for supplying me with abundant bibliographic resources for this 

^Robert Shank, Elect in the Son (Springfield: Westcott, 1970) 207ff. 

^Robert Shank, Life in the Son (Springfield: WestcoU, 1960) 281, 365. 


4. A list of professing believers, from which false professors are eventu- 
ally erased.'' 

5. A list of all humans, from which the names of unbelievers are 
ultimately blotted/ 

6. A "book of the living," listing those who are physically alive.* 

7. A book listing those who are to be the recipients of covenant 

8. Books of deeds, reserved for use in judgment.^ 

9. Books of destiny which contain records of decreed events.' 

The last two classifications describe those passages which refer to 
records of deeds or events, not lists of persons. Though there are 
other more general allusions, especially to records of future events 
(Ezek 2:8-3:3, Rev 5:1, 10:8-11), the following are the seven most 
important references to such lists.'" 

Neh 13:14 "Wipe not out ["do not blot out," NASB, NIV] my 

good deeds that I have done." 
Ps 58:8 "My tears . . . are they not in thy book?" 

Ps 139:16 "In thy book all my members ["days," ASV, NASB, 

RSV, NIV] were written . . . when as yet there was none 

of them." 
Dan 7:10 "The judgment was set and the books were opened." 

(These are interpreted as books of deeds, not names, based 

primarily on the plural and the analogy with Rev 20:12.) 
Dan 10:21 "1 will shew thee that which is noted in the scripture of 

truth ["writing of truth," ASV, NASB; "book of truth," 

RSV, Nivy 

Mai 3:16 "A book of remembrance was written before Him for 

["of," RSV, "concerning," NIV] them that feared the 

Rev 20:12 "And the books were opened ... and the dead were 

judged out of those things which were written in the books, 

according to their works." 

''William Mitchell Ramsay, Letters to the Seven Churches of Asia (London: 
Hodder, n.d.) 385. 

^Kenneth Leroy Kreidler, "The Book of Life: Revelation 3:5" (unpublished 
monograph, Winona Lake, IN: Grace Theological Seminary, 1959) 21, and John F. 
Walvoord, 77?^ Revelation of Jesus Christ (Chicago: Moody, 1966) 82. 

*E. W. Smith, "Book of Life," The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, 
gen. ed. Geoffrey W. Bromiley, (revised edition; Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1979) 1. 534. 

'j. B. Lightfoot, Saint Paul's Epistle to the Philippians (reprint; Grand Rapids: 
Zondervan, 1956) 159. 

'Rist,"Life, Bookof,"3. 130. 

'jan Holman, "Analysis of the Text of Ps 139," BZ 14 (1970) 199. 

'"Except as noted, all quotations are from the KJV. Significant differences in the 
ASV, NASB, RSV, and TV/ Fare always noted. 

smith: the book of life 221 

It should be apparent that these references to lists of deeds or 
events are not of primary concern in answering questions about the 
book of life. In answering these questions attention must be focused 
on those references which refer to lists of persons or names. The 
following sixteen references will provide the necessary data. 

Exod 32:32 "Blot me . . . out of thy book which thou has written." 
Exod 32:33 "Whosoever has sinned . . . him will 1 blot out of my 

Ps 69:28 "Let them [my adversaries] be blotted out of the book of 

the living ["book of life," /15F, NASB, N/V] and not be 

written with the righteous." 
Isa 4:3 "He that is left in Zion . . . shall be called holy, even 

every one that is written among the living ["everyone 

who is recorded for life," NASB, RSV] in Jerusalem." 
Ezek 13:9 "They [false prophets] shall not be . . . written in the 

writing of the house of Israel." 
Dan 12:1 "Thy people shall be delivered, everyone that shall be 

found written in the book." 
Luke 10:20 "But rather rejoice, because your names are written in 

Phil 4:3 "My fellow labourers whose names are in the book of 

Heb 12:23 "To the general assembly and church of the firstborn, 

which ["whose names," NIV] are written ["enrolled," 

ASV, RSV, NASB] in heaven." 
Rev 3:5 "He that overcometh ... I will not ["never," NIV] blot 

out his name out of the book of life." 
Rev 13:8 "And all ... shall worship him [the beast], whose names 

are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from 

the foundation of the world ["written from the founda- 
tion of the world in the book of life of the Lamb that 

hath been slain," ASV, essentially the same in NASB, 

Rev 17:8 "They shall wonder, whose names were not written in 

the book of life from the foundation of the world." 
Rev 20:12 "And another book was opened, which is the book 

of life." 
Rev 20:15 "And whosoever was not found written in the book of 

life was cast into the lake of fire." . 
Rev 21:27 "And there shall in no wise enter . . . but they which are 

written in the Lamb's book of life." 
Rev 22:19 "God shall take away his part out of the book ["tree," 

ASV, NASB, RSV, NIV] of life." 

There is a general consensus that all of the NT references to the 
book of life, including Luke 10:20 and Heb 12:23 which do not use 


the exact phrase, designate the same book. The real question concerns 
the interpretation of the five OT passages in the Ust above (Exod 32:32, 
33; Ps 69:28; Isa 4:3; Ezek 13:9; and Dan 12:1). 

There are some scholars who understand all of these OT passages 
as referring to the same book of life which is mentioned in the NT. 
But this is difficult to square with (1) the reference in Ezek 13:9 to 
not being "written in the writing of the house of Israel," (2) the 
apparent allusions to the loss of physical life ("blotted out of the 
book of the living," Ps 69:28; "He that is left in Zion . . . written 
among the living," Isa 4:3), and (3) the emphasis upon and even the 
threat of being blotted out of the book (Exod 32:32, 33, Ps 69:28, 
Isa 4:3, and possibly Ezek 13:9). In the nine NT references to the 
book of life, only one passage mentions blotting, and that one refer- 
ence is best interpreted as denying such a possibility. 

Perhaps the most usual interpretation of these OT verses (espe- 
cially Exod 32:32, 33, and Ps 69:28) is that they are metaphorical 
references to physical life." This is clearly the interpretation implied 
by the translation of Ps 69:28 in the KJ V sind RSV, and of Isa 4:3 in 
the KJV and NIV. These translations refer to those who are listed 
among "the living." In this approach, to be "blotted out of the book 
of the living" is simply a reference to the loss of physical life.^^ The 
Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological, and Ecclesiastical Literature 
asserts that in Exod 32:32 Moses "meant nothing so foolish or absurd 
as to offer to forfeit eternal life in the world to come, but only that 
he, and not they, should be cut off from the world and brought to an 
untimely end."'^ 

The greatest difficulty in understanding these OT passages as 
referring to physical life alone is the fact that being "written" is 
linked with righteousness, and not being written is linked with sin. In 
Ps 69:28, being "blotted out of the book of the living" is equated with 
"not being written with the righteous"" (not with "not being written 
with the living"). In Exod 32:33 it is only those who have sinned 
(obviously in some very special form of rebelliousness), who are to be 
blotted out. MacClaren suggests that the blotting of names "is not 
only to kill, but to exclude from the national community, and so 
from all the privileges of the people of God."'" The deliverance 

Ernest W. Lee, "The Book Which God Has Written" (unpubHshed monograph, 
Winona Lake, IN: Grace Theological Seminary, 1955) 24-28, 42-51. 

''L. Kaiser, "Blot," The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, ed. James Orr 
(Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1955) 1. 490. 

'"Book of Life," Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological, and Ecclesiastical Literature, 
eds. John McClintock and James Strong (New York: Harper, 1894) 1. 852. 

'"Alexander MacClaren, "Psalms," in The Expositors Bible, ed. W. Robertson 
NicoU (London: Hodden and Stoughton, 1893) 3. 182. 

smith: the book of life 223 

mentioned in Dan 12:1 may refer only to physical preservation through 
the great tribulation that is described, but it is usually understood as 
indicating much more than this.'^ 

A much better approach is to understand these OT passages as 
metaphorical references to a book of covenant blessings. Lightfoot 
asserts that "the 'book of life' in the figurative language of the Old 
Testament is the register of the covenant people, . . . hence to be blot- 
ted out of the book of the living means to forfeit the privileges of the 
theocracy; to be shut out from God's favor." '^ The view presented in 
the Self- Interpreting Bible in regard to Exod 32:32-33 is very close to 
this interpretation: 

God, to test and evidence his mediatorial qualifications, had offered to 
Moses, ver. 10, to make a great nation; but that honour he resigns, nay 
deprecates, for the sake of the poor ungrateful people whom he was 
sent to deliver, and prays that rather than be aggrandized by the rejec- 
tion of the nation, he may be blotted, not out of the book of life, but 
out of the book of national genealogy, honour, and possession. 

Since the Mosaic Covenant promised blessings, including long life, 
conditioned on obedience, a person's name could be blotted from a 
list of covenant blessings if he failed to fulfill the conditions prescribed 
by the covenant. 

This interpretation adequately answers the objections raised 
against the other views. It allows an analogy with the later references 
to the book of life since both books designate the recipients of special 
divine blessings. It also explains the emphasis on physical life, the 
reference to being "written in the writing of the house of Israel" 
(Ezek 13:9), and the possibility and threat of being blotted from the 

In view of the preceding considerations, it is apparent that there 
is a unifying factor in all of the references under discussion. It is 
unlikely that any refer to mere physical life alone. Rather, all specify 
the recipients of special divine blessings. But it is also apparent that 
there is a progression of revelation concerning the significance of the 
concept. Though the early emphasis was clearly on physical life and 
temporal blessings, possibly by the end of the OT (Dan 12:1), and 
certainly throughout the NT period, the concept of a divine register 
listing those slated for covenantal blessings clearly indicated a list of 
those selected before the foundation of the world (Rev 17:8) for the 

Robert Henry Charles, ed., Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha of the Old Testament 
in English (Oxford: Clarendon, 1913) 2. 216, n. 3. 

'^Lightfoot, Saint Paul's Epistle to the Phiiippians, 159. 

""Exodus 32:32-33," Self-Interpreting Bible, ed. John H. Vincent et al. (Saint 
Louis: The Bible Educational Society, 1811) 352. 


irrevocable covenantal blessing of eternal life (Rev 3:5, 20:15). While 
there is a degree of continuity, the change of emphasis requires the 
later book to be significantly different from the book of the earlier 
references. From this perspective one could say that there are two 
books of life, one being a book of covenantal blessings emphasizing 
the temporal aspects of divine blessing, and the other being a book of 
covenantal blessing emphasizing the eternal aspects. 

On the other hand, since the nine NT references (and possibly 
Dan 12:1) establish the concept of the book of life as a book deter- 
minative of eternal blessings (a significance not implied by the earlier 
references), there is certainly only one such book. This understanding 
harmonizes perfectly with the translation of the KJV where the term 
"book of life" is used only in the NT and only to designate what may 
be called the "book of eternal life."'* The OT book of covenantal 
blessings is labeled only as "the book of the living" (Ps 69:28, cf. 
Isa 4:3) or as "thy book" (Exod 32:32), "my book" (Exod 32:33), the 
"writing of the house of Israel" (Ezek 13:9), or simply as "the book" 
(Dan 12:1). 

Thus, the OT refers to several divine registers or books. These 
include lists of deeds, events and names. When names are mentioned 
the reference is to those who are the slated recipients of covenantal 
blessings. Under a covenant specifying conditional blessings a for- 
feiture of these blessings is envisioned as a blotting from such a list.'^ 
The primary emphasis of this blotting is upon the loss of physical life 
and other temporal blessings, though the loss (or blessing of continued 
listing) may extend beyond the temporal. However, the NT focuses 
on the unconditionally covenanted blessing of eternal life.^" The NT 
book of life, therefore, is significantly different from the other books 
that are mentioned and thus there is only one "book of life" which is 
a register of those chosen for eternal blessings. All of the following 
discussion will focus on this book of life — the register of the elect. 

'^Walter Scott (Exposition of the Revelation of Jesus Christ [London: Pickering 
and Inglis, n.d.] 76ff) believes that there are two books of life in Revelation, one being 
a book of professors from which names are erased, and another containing only true 
believers. This view is contradicted by the unity of the book and misunderstands 
Rev 3:5. It will not here be further evaluated. 

"This accords well with statements in Deut 29:18-28 about a covenant-breaker 
being punished by having "all the curses that are written in this book" (cf. Rev 22:19) 
brought upon him and by having the Lord "blot out his name from under heaven." 

^"A note in the NIV Study Bible (Kenneth L. Barker, gen. ed. [Grand Rapids: 
Zondervan, 1985] 857) implies this understanding of the progress in significance of the 

smith: the book of life 225 

whose names are written in the book? 

The most common answers to this question are: (1) all humans, 
(2) all professing believers, (3) all believers, including those who will 
fall away unto damnation, and (4) all of the elect. 

The view that all humans are listed^' requires a later blotting of 
the names of those who do not believe and thus is contradicted by the 
fact that names are never removed from the NT book of life (see 
below). It is also contradicted by Jesus' statement to the seventy-two 
in Luke 10:20. If the names of all living humans were written in 
heaven there would be no point in telling any living person to rejoice 
because his name is written in heaven! Casting out demons at the 
command of Jesus (Luke 10:17-20), while not a proof of election, 
would be far more comforting and assuring than that which is true of 
all humans! The same conclusion would be required by several other 
NT statements. Paul, for example, referred to his "fellowlabourers 
whose names are written in the book of life" (Phil 4:3). But if the 
names of all humans are in the book until removed at death (or 
later?) then all of Paul's contemporaries — including Annas, Caiphas, 
Hymenaeus, and Alexander — were also written in the book! On this 
premise, Paul's statement could not point to a distinction or provide 
comfort for believers. Furthermore, Rev 13:8 and 17:8 specifically 
refer to people still alive on the earth whose names are not written in 
the book of life. 

The second and third views, that the names of all professing 
believers or of all who believe and then later apostatize are recorded 
in the book, also require a later removal of the false professors or 
apostates and thus do not fit with the NT data. Nearly all of the 
arguments and references used in objecting to the preceding view are 
equally applicable against these views. For example, if the names of 
mere professing believers are recorded in heaven only to be removed 
at death, or if one's name could be removed because of a failure of 
faith, or apostasy, then Jesus' remark about names being recorded in 
heaven could provide no enduring assurance. 

The fourth view, that only the elect, those destined for eternal 
blessings, are recorded in the book, is the only answer that is con- 
sistent with the biblical data. This answer is required (1) by the fact 
that the other alternatives have been shown to be invalid, (2) by the 
biblical assertions that one's eternal destiny is determined by the 
presence or absence of his name in the book of life (Rev 20:15 and 
21:27), and (3) by the answers to the other questions addressed in this 

^'Walvoord, The Revelation of Jesus Christ, 82. 



This is probably the easiest to answer of the questions under 
consideration in this article. Only three answers are commonly sug- 
gested: (1) at birth, (2) at the time of salvation, or (3) at the time of 
election before the foundation of the world. ^^ 

Support for the belief that names are entered at the moment of 
salvation is not derived directly from any biblical statement. For 
example, without biblical documentation, Owen says that the answer 
as to when the names are inserted is "most unquestionably, when by 
faith in Christ, they were brought to realize their lost condition, 
and . . . were restored. "^^ Support for this view is often derived from 
a theological reticence to allow a pre-creation election, and from 
popular hymnody: "There's a new name written down in glory, and 
it's mine, oh yes it's mine!" 

The belief that a listing in a book was determined before the 
foundation of the world is specifically required by Rev 17:8.^'* This 
verse speaks of names written in the book of life "from the foundation 
of the world." Thus, it is clear that names are not added at salvation, 
but were recorded before creation. This fits exactly with other biblical 
statements. Eph 1:4, for example, states that God "chose us in him 
before the foundation of the world," or as NIV translates, "For he 
chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and 
blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us to be adopted as his 
sons." In view of Rev 17:8 one could add, ". . . and recorded our 
names in the book of life, his register of those chosen to be the special 
recipients of his grace." 


Obviously, there are only two possible answers to this question. 
Those who answer in the affirmative typically build their argument 
upon one or more of the following considerations. 

^^The belief that names are entered when physical Hfe begins need not be considered 
here since it understands that the names of all humans are entered when Hfe begins. 
Thus it has already been ruled out in the answer to the previous question. The book 
does not contain the names of all living humans. 

"John Owen, A Commentary, Critical, Expository, and Practical, on the Gospel 
of Luke {New York: Leavitt and Allen, 1864) 145. R. C. H. Lenski {The Interpretation 
of St. John's Revelation [Minneapolis: Augsburg, 1943] 134) also affirms that one's 
name was entered "when he was first begotten of the Spirit and of the Word." 

■"This belief may possibly also be required by Rev 13:8. In this verse the phrase 
"from the foundations of the world" has been taken by KJV and N/V as modifying 
"the Lamb that has been slain," but by AS V, N AS Band RSV as modifying "the book 
of life." The arguments are inconclusive and in view of the unambiguous statement in 
Rev 17:8 they need not be evaluated in this discussion. 

smith: the book of life 227 

1. They understand the book or writing mentioned in Exod 32:32- 
33, Ps 69:28, and Ezek 13:9 as carrying the same significance as the 
NT references to the book of Ufe. But is has already been demonstrated 
that while the OT book certainly foreshadows the NT book, it is 
erroneous to equate wholly the two. 

2. They believe that the names of all humans or of merely profess- 
ing believers are recorded in the book. These assumptions have already 
been shown to be unbiblical. 

3. They believe that "the blotting out of names never occurs 
during this life, but at the judgment seat of Christ. It has to do with 
rewards not with eternal life."^^ The clear statements of Rev 20:14-15 
refute this concept. 

4. They believe that true believers may lose their salvation. This 
may be founded upon a doctrine of conditional election, that is, the 
elect are those whose persistence in faith has been foreseen, thus 
allowing the possibility of regeneration for some who were not elected; 
or upon a doctrine of "corporate salvation" which effectively denies 
individual election. The Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological, and 
Ecclesiastical Literature asserts that the fact that names are recorded 
in heaven by no means implies a certainty of salvation, "but only that 
at that time the persons were on the list, from which (as in Rev. 3:5) 
the names of unworthy members might be erased."'^ In response to 
these ideas it is sufficient to note that only the names of the elect are 
entered in the book and that the never-entered names of apostates 
cannot be removed (cf. the argument above concerning whose names 
are written in the NT book of life). 

5. They believe that Rev 22:19 and/ or Rev 3:5 threaten the 
removal of names from the book of life. The interpretation of these 
verses is the crux of this issue, and the following paragraphs will 
examine their significance. 

Rev 22:19 is probably the most frequently cited verse in support 
of the view that names may be blotted from the book of life. The 
support wholly vanishes, however, when one examines any recognized 

"M. R. DeHaan, The Lamb's Book of Life (Grand Rapids: Radio Bible Class, 
n.d.) 17. 

' "Book of Life," Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological, and Ecclesiastical Literature, 
I. 852. A variation is suggested by F. C. Jennings (Studies- in Revelation [New 
York: Loizeaux, 1937] 126) who has argued that Rev 3:5 views the book from a human 
perspective which cannot distinguish mere profession from genuine possession of 
salvation, whereas the later references are from the divine perspective. Robert H. 
Mounce (The Book of Revelation [NICNT; Grand Rapids: 1977] 1 13-14) avoids any 
consideration of the theological significance of the blotting by asserting that "it is 
hermeneutically unsound to base theological doctrine solely on either parables or 
apocalyptic imagery." The statement is valid but it omits the equally valid point that 
imagery should be interpreted in harmony with other revelation — not just ignored. 


English version other than the KJV. It is well-known among Bible 
scholars that there is absolutely no Greek manuscript support for the 
KJVs rendering of this verse. ^^ All of the Greek manuscripts have 
"tree of life," not "book of life." Rev 22:18, 19 simply affirms that 
unbelievers who rob this book of its authority by adding to it or by 
taking from it shall have the plagues of the book "added to" them 
and the blessings of the book "taken away from" them. Among the 
blessings to be withheld are access to the tree of life and to the holy 
city. The tree of life symbolizes the availability of eternal life in both 
the opening and closing paragraphs of the Bible. Therefore, though 
Rev 22:19 may be difficult to understand, it cannot be used as a basis 
for any doctrine suggesting that names may be blotted from the book 
of life. 

The interpretation of Rev 3:5 is really the crucial issue in answer- 
ing the question under discussion. The verse states: "He that over- 
cometh ... 1 will not [or "never," NIV] blot out his name out of the 
book of life." Many have concluded that this teaches that if Christians 
"are defeated and they die in their sins, their names shall be blotted 
out from the book of life."^* But in addition to its theological prob- 
lems this interpretation assumes (1) that the phrase "he that over 
Cometh" describes a special class of Christians, and (2) that the state- 
ment is a threat of removal rather than a promise negating any 
possibility of removal. 

It is more in keeping with the context and Johannine theology to 
understand an "overcomer" as a term meaning "true believer," or 
"Christian," not a mere professor. This seems to be the obvious intent 
of the passage. In Rev 2: 11, for example, the overcomer is one who 
will "not be hurt of (by) the second death." This is true of all believers, 
not just of especially faithful or especially spiritual believers. Later 
the second death is equated with being cast into the lake of fire, 
which is possible only for those "not found written in the book of 
life" (Rev 20:14-15) and is not a possibility for any Christian. As 
Ryrie has noted, "An overcomer is not someone who has some special 
power in the Christian life or someone who has learned some secret 

"The translators of the KJV used a printed edition of the Greek NT that was 
based, with several intermediate editions, upon the text published by Erasmus in 1516. 
When he prepared his text Erasmus did not have any Greek manuscripts containing the 
closing verses of the NT. Accordingly, he simply made up his Greek text for these 
verses by translating back from the Latin. For Rev 22:19 he had no Greek manuscript 
containing the phrase "book of life," and none has been discovered since that time. See 
Bruce M. Metzger, The Text of the New Testament (2d edition; New York and Oxford: 
Oxford University, 1968) 101-2. 

^^Apostolos Makrakis, Interpretation of the Book of Revelation (Chicago: Hellenic 
Christian Educational Society, 1948) 104. See also Lenski, The Interpretation of St. 
John's Revelation, 136-37. 

smith: the book of life 229 

of victory. John himself defined an overcomer as a believer in Christ 
(1 John 5:4-5). Thus every Christian is an overcomer. "^^ The state- 
ment of 1 John 5:4-5 is as follows: "For everyone born of God has 
overcome the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, 
even our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world? Only he who 
believes that Jesus is the Son of God" (NIV). 

The grammar and context of the verse also suggest that Rev 3:5 
should be understood as a strong promise denying any possibility of 
blotting, rather than as a warning or threat of an ominous potentiality. 
The negative involved is the emphatic double negative, ou ^fi.^° It is 
not a threat; rather it is an emphatic promise that the names of 
overcomers (i.e.. Christians) will never, under any circumstances, be 
blotted from the book. The same emphatic negation is employed in 
two of the other promises to the overcomers. Rev 2:1 1 says that the 
overcomer "shall not be hurt ["at all," NIV] by the second death." As 
noted above, this is a positive promise in agreement with Rev 20:14- 
15 where being hurt by the second death and being listed in the book 
of life are at opposite poles and mark the ultimate distinction between 
believers and unbelievers. Similarly, Rev 3:12 promises that each over- 
comer will become a "pillar in the temple of my God and he shall go 
no more out" ["never shall he go out of it," RSV]. None of these 
three promises employing the emphatic double negative are to be 
understood as threats. 

In view of these considerations it may be concluded that the 
answer to the question, "Are names ever blotted from the book of 
life?", requires an emphatic negative — even a double negative (ou 
Hfj) — by no means! 


This study has argued that the OT allusions to a register of 
names refer to those who are slated for covenant blessmgs, with a 
primary focus on the temporal blessings associated with physical life. 

'"Charles Caldwell Ryrie, Revelation (Chicago: Moody, 1968) 22-23. Cf. James E. 
Rosscup, "The Overcomer of the Apocalypse," G77 3 (1982) 261-86. J. William Fuller 
("'I Will Not Erase His Name From the Book of Life' (Reve\ation 3:5)," JETS 26 
[1983] 299) has argued that the reference to the overcomer "implies that the victory is 
on an individual basis, that not all Christians attain it." He reasons that "a command 
that everyone keeps is superfluous, and a reward that everyone receives for a virtue 
that everyone has is nonsense." The reasoning is valid, but the conclusion is not true 
since the argument is based on false premises. A number of NT passages make it clear 
that many who consider themselves Christians are not in reality such and do fall away. 
They are not overcomers. 

^°See H. E. Dana and J. R. Mantey, A Manual Grammar of the Greek New 
Testament (Nev^ York: Macmillan, 1953) 172. 


These references do not convey the full import of the later NT state- 
ments regarding the book of life. However, they foreshadow the later 
significance. While names could be removed from a list of recipients 
of temporal, conditional covenantal blessings, names could never be 
removed from a list of recipients of eternal, unconditional covenantal 

On the basis of these considerations it may be concluded that 
there is only one book of life which lists the names of those who are 
chosen and predestined for eternal life. This book has never contained 
the names of all humans, or of all professing believers, or of "believers" 
who later "lose" their salvation, but only the names of all the elect. 
The names are not entered at birth or at the time of salvation, but 
were all entered "before the foundation of the world." These names 
are never blotted from this register. 

Grace Theological Journal 6.2 ( 1985) 23 1 -246 


Richard L. Mayhue 

The biblical phrase "Day of the Lord" is a key phrase in 
understanding God's revelation about the future. The NT writers' use 
of this phrase rested upon their understanding of the OT prophets. A 
survey of the OT indicates that it was used by the prophets when 
speaking of both near historical and future eschatological events. The 
NT writers picked up on the eschatological use and applied the 
phrase both to the judgment which will climax the Tribulation period 
and the judgment which will usher in the new earth. 


THE phrase "Day of the Lord" (dol) embodies one of the major 
strands woven throughout the fabric of bibHcal prophecy. With- 
out a clear understanding of dol, the pattern of God's plan for the 
future is obscure. 

Dol appears in four uncontested NT passages (Acts 2:20, 
1 Thess 5:2, 2 Thess 2:2, and 2 Pet 3:10). However, OT prophets 
actually wrote more about dol. The OT provided the basis for 
whatever Peter and Paul understood about dol. Beecher argued that. 

All doctrines in regard to the millennium, the second coming of 
Christ, and the final judgment depend greatly on the passages in the 
New Testament that use the formulas, "the day of the Lord," "the day 
of our Lord," "that day," and the like; such passages, for example, as 
2 Pet. iii:10, 1 Thess. v:2, 1 Cor. 1:8, v:5, 2 Cor. i:14, 2 Thess. i:10, 
2 Tim. i:12. Matt. xxv:13, etc. The meaning of these passages is, in 
turn, greatly dependent on the relations that exist, both in ideas and in 
phraseology, between them and the texts in the Old Testament that 
speak of "the day of the Lord," that is, "the day of Jehovah." 
Necessarily, the study of these places in the Old Testament will be 
profitable, both in itself and for the light it throws on New Testament 

'W. J. Beecher, "The Day of Jehovah in Joel," The Homiletic Review 18 (1889) 


Accordingly, this study will first evaluate the OT data concerning 
DOL. The pattern that emerges will then be used as an aid in the 
interpretation of the NT uses of this phrase. 


Many contrasts appear which at first seem to be contradictory. 
In various dol texts contemporary history is in view (Isa 13:6, Joel 
1:15), but in other texts there are predictions that clearly relate to the 
future (2 Thess 2:2, 2 Pet 3:10). Most passages speak of God's 
judgments, but some are tied closely to God's blessing (Zech 14:1-21). 
Sometimes dol is used of a time when the nations will be punished 
(Obad 15), but at other times it is used of the punishment of Israel 
(Joel 1:15); yet it seemingly leads to Israel's restoration with the 
Messiah as her king (Zech 14:1-21). A survey of the literature written 
on DOL reveals a plethora of opinions on how to reconcile these 
diverse observations. These following examples illustrate some of the 

Is the DOL fulfilled historically or eschatologically? Bess writes, 
"It must be made clear that the expression 'the day of Jehovah' is 
throughout Scripture an eschatological term. It may not be inter- 
preted as predictive of a time in Israel's history future to the writer 
but now having had its historical fulfillment."^ However, Payne 
argues that dol is such a broad term that only context can determine 
its precise meaning in a given passage.^ 

Is dol a twenty-four hour period or longer? Licht suggests that 
God will act suddenly and decisively in a single day.'* But Saucy 
concludes that, "The day of the Lord . . . represents the whole series 
of events beginning with the outpouring of God's judgment during 
the Great Tribulation and continuing until the final transformation 
with the new heavens and new earth (2 Peter 3:10)."^ 

Does dol involve judgment or blessing? Trotter demands that 
DOL always refers to the execution of judgment upon the earth,^ while 
Davidson affirms that the dol is not primarily a day of judgment but 
a day of joy, even though judgment always accompanies it.^ Yet 

S. H. Bess, "The Book of Zephaniah, A Premillennial Interpretation" (unpub- 
lished Th.M. Thesis: Grace Theological Seminary, 1953) 37. 

'j. B. Payne, The Theology of the Older Testament (Grand Grapids: Zondervan, 

'J. Licht, "Day of the Lord," EncJud 5. 1388. 

'R. L. Saucy, "The Eschatology of the Bible." in The Expositor's Bible Commen- 
tary, ed. Frank E. Gaebelein (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1979) 1. 107. 

*W. Trotter, Plain Papers on Prophetic and Other Subjects (London: Pickering & 
Inglis, n.d.) 287. 

'a. B. Davidson, The Theology of the Old Testament (New York: Scribner's, 
1907) 374-75. 

mayhue: day of the lord 233 

Pentecost believes that the OT passages "reveal that the idea of 
judgment is paramount."* 

Because of these and other questions, this work will examine the 
biblical meaning of dol in order to discern whether (1) dol is always 
used to refer to the same event or if it is used of several events and 
whether (2) dol has already occurred, or if it will occur in the future, 
or if DOL is used of both past and future events. While this study of 
the Dies Irae^ does not answer all the questions, it is hoped that it will 
provide a stimulation for further research and thinking. 


The phrase "day of the Lord" appears nineteen times'" in the OT. 
The Hebrew phrases mn'' DV and mn"''? UV are both translated dol. 
The LXX translates dol as f[\iipa Kupiou. The expression occurs 
only in six minor and two major prophets." 


Obadiah relates the family feud between Israel (Jacob) and 
Edom (Esau). Two important questions have been raised concerning 
Obadiah's use of dol. First, was Obadiah written early (ca. 845 B.C.) 
or late (ca. 587 b.c.)? Second, does Obadiah deal only with the 
foreign plunder of Palestine or does the scope of the prophecy extend 
to a future eschatological end? 

*J. D. Pentecost, Things to Comp (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1958) 230. 

'^This term was used in the liturgy of the medieval church to describe the dol. 
Thomas of Celano thus entitled his poem which depicts God's judgment. See 
W. Griffin, ed., Endtime: The Doomsday Catalog (New York: Collier, 1979) 187. 

'°Some erroneously conclude that there are twenty occurrences by adding Zech 
14:7. A. J. Everson ("Days of Yahweh," JBL 93 [1974] 330) writes, "eighteen texts 
properly form the basic evidence." He then elaborates in n 6 the nineteen texts that this 
writer has cataloged. H. W. Robinson (Inspiration and Revelation in the Old Testament 
[Oxford: Clarendon, 1963] 135) proposes twenty-eight texts. In n 1 he adds Isa 34:8, 
58:5. 61:2, Jer 46:10; Lam 2:22; Ezek 7:19; Zeph 1:18; 2:2; and 2:3 to the nineteen basic 
texts. These, for the most part (excepting Isa 58:5), seem to refer to dol but do not use 
that precise terminology. L. Cerny (The Day of Yahweh and Some Relevant Problems 
[Prague: n.p., 1948] 17-2!) has written the classic study of dol in the OT from a 
philological and historical vantage. He includes twenty-nine texts by adding Zeph 1:8 
to Robinson's list. 

"The texts and writing dates are as follows: Obad 15 (ca. 845 B.C.), Joel 1:15; 2:1, 
II, 31 (Heb 3:4); 3:14 (Heb 4:14) (ca. 835 B.C.), Amos 5:18 (2 times), 20 (ca. 755 B.C.), 
Isa 2:12; 13:6, 9 (ca. 720 B.C.), Zeph 1:7, 14 (2 times) (ca. 630 B.C.), Ezek 13:5; 30:3 (ca. 
580 B.C.), Zech 14:1 (ca. 520 B.C.), and Malachi 4:4 (Heb 3:23) (ca. 450 B.C.). The dates 
follow the chronology of H. E. Freeman, An Introduction to the Old Testament 
Prophets (Chicago: Moody, 1968). 

'^The writer will not treat the historical context and literary structure for each 
book. Only where these areas are particularly helpful in understanding a dol text will 
they be mentioned. 


Scholarly opinion is divided on the date of Obadiah. It must be 
insisted, however, that Obadiah was writing before the fact of judg- 
ment, not after it occurred. I believe that Obadiah was written early 
and contains the first mention of dol in the OT.'^ Later prophets 
who used dol looked to Obadiah as the initial prophecy concerning 


Was the scope of the judgment envisioned in Obad 15 near 
future or far future? There are those who would posit that all of 
Obadiah was fulfilled in the near future no later than the time of 
Nebuchadnezzar. For example, Henderson suggests that Obadiah 
refers to the Babylonian conqust of Idumea.'^ However, others would 
extend the fulfillment of v 15 beyond the 6th century B.C. Allen 
makes the general assertion that its scope goes beyond 587 b.c.'^ 
Feinberg is more specific and suggests that the time will be just before 
the establishment of Messiah's kingdom.'^ 

Obad 15 is the pivotal verse in this book whose theme is the dol 
experienced first by Edom and second by the nations (15-16) who 
walked in Edom's way. The fact that the language of vv 1-14 is 
singularly applied to Edom warrants a near future fulfillment — in all 
likelihood Nebuchadnezzar's plunder. However, the language of 
vv 15-21 points to the far future and the estabHshment of God's 
kingdom. There are at least five indications of this. First, the text of 
vv 1-14 deals with Edom alone. There is an abrupt shift in vv 15-16 to 
include all of the nations. Second, Edom (vv 1-14) becomes the 
pattern for future nations (v 16). This is an expansion of the scope of 
the prophecy from a national to an international matter. Third, the 
destruction of the nations (v 16) is an eschatological event. Fourth, 
Israel's restoration to vitality (vv 17-21) will occur in the fullest sense 
before and during the millennium. Fifth, it is stated that the kingdom 
will be the Lord's (v 21). In one sense the kingdom is always the 

See also W. C. Kaiser, Jr., Toward an Old Testament Theology (Grand Rapids: 
Zondervan, 1978) 47; C. F. Keil, The Minor Prophets (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, n.d.) 
365; T. Laetsch, The Minor Prophets (St. Louis: Concordia, 1956) 203; and C. von 
Orelli, The Twelve Minor Prophets (Reprint; Minneapolis: Klock and Klock, 1977) 82, 
162. Kaiser notes that the other three options are: (1) during Ahaz's reign, 743-715 
B.C.; (2) when Edom invaded Judah (2 Chron 28:16-18); or (3) during the fall of 
Jerusalem under Nebuchadnezzar in 586 B.C. (2 Kgs 25:1-21; 2 Chron 36:15-20). 

'■"Keil, The Minor Prophets, 365. 

"E. Henderson, The Books of the Twelve Minor Prophets (London: Hamilton, 
Adams, and Co., 1845) 195. Y^sasex (Towards an Old Testament Theology, 188) points 
to the Maccabean period. 

L. Allen, The Books of Joel. Obadiah. Jonah and Micah (Grand Rapids: 
Eerdmans, 1976) 160-61. 

'^C. L. Feinberg, The Minor Prophets (Chicago: Moody, 1976) 128. 

mayhue: day of the lord 235 

Lord's, so what does Obadiah mean? Evidently Obadiah refers to the 
time when the King himself, Jesus Christ, sits upon the throne of 
David in Jerusalem and rules internationally with a rod of righteous- 
ness and wrath. Kaiser notes. 

As for the fulfillment of this prophecy, Obadiah combined in one 
picture what history split into different times and events. . . . Hence the 
day of the Lord ran throughout the history of the kingdom of God so 
that it occurred in each particular judgment as evidence of its complete 
fulfillment which was near and approaching . . . having near and distant 
events, or multiple fulfillments, all being part of the single truth- 
intention of the author with its more immediate victory over Edom and 
the distant total victory of the kingdom of God.'^ 

To summarize, Obadiah makes several contributions to the 
biblical pattern. It combines the near view (with particular reference 
to Edom, vv 1-14) with the far view (involving all the nations, 
vv 15-21). It predicts judgment and destruction of all the godless 
(vv 15-16, 18). The restoration of Israel is involved in the far view 
(vv 17-21) but is not evident in the near. The near is a preview, taste, 
and guarantee of what the far will involve in a lesser to a greater 
logical flow. Finally, the establishment of God's kingdom is its end 


General Observations 

DoL is mentioned five times in Joel (1:15, 2:1, 2:11, 2:31, and 
3:14). The details in each passage are similar, but enough differences 
occur to suggest that Joel begins with a very narrow historical sample 
(a locust plague) and expands it to include a universal, eschatological 
application. Unless the interpreter understands this logic and the 
generic nature of this prophecy, Joel is unintelligible. In 1898 Terry 
noted that. 

The exposition of Joel has been confused and rendered unintelligible 
by some because of their dogmatic prepossession of the idea that "the 
day of Jehovah" can only mean one definite and formal act of 
judgment at the end of all human history. But a true prophet of Israel 
would see a great and terrible day of Jehovah both in a plague of 
locusts and a destructive invasion of hostile armies that spread the 
terror of conquest over land and cities.'^ 

'^Kaiser, Towards an Old Testament Theology, 188-89. 

"M. S. Terry. Biblical Apocalyptics (New York: Eaton & Mains, 1898) 173. 


More recently George Eldon Ladd felt the same tension. He explained 
that, "It is practically impossible to determine where the description 
of the natural disaster ends and that of the eschatological enemies 

There are three basic interpretations of the scope of Joel's 
prophecy. In the first, which might be called the allegorical/ eschato- 
logical, the locusts of Joel 1 and 2 are interpreted to be Israel's future 
enemies in general. Some particularize the four kinds of locusts.^' 
Second, in what might be called the historical/ eschatological view, 
Joel 1:1-2:17 refers to locusts while 2:18-3:21 refers to future human 
invaders. ^^ The third view is more complex and could be described as 
the historical/ near eschatological/ far view. According to this ap- 
proach, the locusts in Joel 1 are real. A near future invasion under 
the figure of locusts is the subject of Joel 2:1-17. Joel 2:18-27 serves 
as a transition from the near to the far. Joel 2:28-3:21 looks to an 
eschatological end.^^ I believe this third view is correct. 

Themes used by Joel in his description of dol are picked up by 
later prophets. The following may be noted: 

Joel 1:15 



Isa 13:6 

Joel 2:2 

Day of Darkness 


Zeph 1:15 

Joel 2:2 

Day of Clouds 


Zeph 1:15, 

Ezek 30:3 

Joel 2:2 

Thick Darkness 


Zeph 1:15 

Joel 2:11, 




Zeph 1:14, 

Mai 4:5 

Joel 2:31, 


-4 Cosmic Disturbances 


Isa 13:10 

Joel 3:4 



Mai 4:5 

Specific Passages 

The locusts of Joel are real locusts or grasshoppers which had 
recently played havoc with Judah's countryside. The fields were 
ravaged and the harvest ruined.^'* This vivid evidence of destruction is 
the basis for Joel to warn the nation that repentance is needed lest the 
DOL soon come with even greater destruction (1:15). The message of 
Joel 1 is that natural disasters like locust plagues are mere harbingers 
of imminent divine destruction. 

'"G. E. Ladd, The Presence of the Future (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1974) 68. 

''E. B. Pusey, The Minor Prophets (reprint; Grand Rapids: Baker, 1970) 146; and 
Young, An Introduction to the Old Testament, 248. 

"W. K. Price, The Prophet Joel and the Day of the Lord (Chicago: Moody, 1976) 
38; and Otto Schmoller, The Book of JoeL in Commentary on the Holy Scriptures, ed. 
J. P. Lange (reprint; Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1971) 7. 14. 

"H. Hosch ("The Concept of Prophetic Time in the Book of Joel," JETS 15 
[1972] 32-33, 38) presents this threefold model. This writer's own thinking was 
confirmed by Hosch. 

'"The similar havoc wrought on Egypt by locusts in Exod 10:14-15 should be 

mayhue: day of the lord 237 

The warning of impending disaster and the past experience of the 
locusts in Joel 1 are used in Joel 2 to describe the future destruction 
caused by an invading human army. This could refer specifically 
either to the Assyrians in 701 B.C. or the Babylonians in 605 B.C., or it 
could refer generally to both. Joel 2 supplies further details involving 
the uniqueness (2:2), destruction (2:3), and military emphasis (2:4-1 1) 
of DOL. These impending disasters were used by Joel as the basis of 
an appeal for repentance (2:12-17). 

As Joel's prophecy proceeds it grows in its intensity and scope. 
Joel 2:18-27 functions as a transition from the near view to the far 
view. The events that Joel predicts in 2:28-32 will be spectacular. 
There will be an outpouring of God's Spirit upon all mankind 
(2:28-29). Cosmic disturbances will flash God's greatness from the 
skies (2:30-31). Repentance will be available to everyone (2:33, cf. 
Obad 17). 

Most significant in 2:31 is the statement that the great cosmic 
signs will be a prelude to dol ("before the great and awesome day of 
the Lord comes"). This seems to limit dol in time to the very end 
of the eschatological tribulation period if Joel 3:15, Matt 24:29 
and Rev 6:12 refer to the same event. The dol experience at the 
end of the eschatological tribulation will contain unmistakable mani- 
festations of God's greatness. There will be both physical disturbances 
(cf. 2 Pet 3:10) and spiritual revival. Judgment and repentance are the 
main themes which are stressed. It should additionally be mentioned 
that Peter referred to this prophecy in his great Pentecost sermon 
(Acts 2:16-21). Also Paul cites Joel 2:32 in Rom 10:13 as he 
emphasizes the way of salvation. 

Joel 3:14-16 climaxes Joel's dol prophecy as it describes an 
international judgment in the presence of God (3:2, 3:14). It seems to 
anticipate a number of NT passages, including Matt 13:41-43, 49-50; 
24:37-41; 25:31-46; 2 Thess 1:9; and Rev 14:17-20. All that the 
locusts of Joel 1:1-14 previewed will come to its final, climactic end 
in the valley of Jehoshaphat (3:12), the valley of decision (3:14). Joel 
3:18-20 outlines the results of dol. 


Like Obadiah, Joel is a locus classicus for the~ study of the dol. 
Joel combines a near, narrow perspective relating to Judah (1:15; 2:1; 
2:1 1) with a far, wider perspective relating to the nations (2:31; 3:14). 
According to Joel, dol involves judgment and destruction of the 
godless (3:13). The restoration of Israel is anticipated in the far view 
(3:18-20) but is not evident in the near. The near (1:15) is a preview, 
taste, or guarantee of what the far will involve (3:2, 14). Finally, Joel 
views the establishment of God's kingdom as the goal of dol 



The DOL prophecy of Amos 5:18, 20 needs to be understood in 
its historical setting. The prophet wrote to the northern ten tribes 
(7:10) and to King Jeroboam, predicting their future exile to Assyria 
(5:27; 6:14; 7:9; 7:17). 

Amaziah, the priest of Bethel, accused Amos of conspiracy (7:10) 
and attempted to send Amos back to Judah. Amos's message of 
judgment conflicted with Amaziah's message of peace and prosperity. 
It was to Amaziah and those like him that Amos addressed his words 
in 5:18, 20. The people were doing evil (5:12) but nevertheless 
believed that the Lord was with them (5:14). God was not accepting 
their hypocritical sacrifices and worship (5:22). God demanded 
righteousness and condemned this hypocrisy (5:21-24). 

These self-righteous Israelites longed mistakenly for the day of 
Yahweh's return which in their view would bring them blessing and 
prosperity. Amos's description of dol was diametrically opposed to 
this view (5:18-20). According to Amos, dol is not a day of delight 
but of darkness — a day of gloom not gladness. On this point Ladd 

The prophets often anticipate a divine visitation in the immediate 
future; therefore, they speak of the Day of the Lord. Amos's contem- 
poraries entertained bright hopes of political security and economic 
prosperity, which they called the Day of the Lord. Amos shattered this 
shallow nonreligious hope with the announcement that the future holds 
disaster rather than security. Judgment will fall upon Damascus and 
the neighboring peoples; but it will also fall upon Judah and Israel for 
their sins. Fire will destroy Jerusalem (Amos 2:5), and Assyria and 
Egypt will raze Israel (3:9-11). This will be a divine visitation (4:12). 
"The Lord roars from Zion and utters his voice from Jerusalem" (1:2). 
It is therefore the Day of the Lord (5:18-20). God has indeed visited 
Israel in Egypt; and for this very reason he must bring a corrective 
judgment upon them (3:2).^^ 

The day that Amos envisioned was the fall of Samaria in 722 B.C. 
(2 Kings 17). Amos stresses the inevitability of this destruction 
(5:19-20). In Amos, dol is not used to portray the eschatological 
expression of God's judgment. However, Amos does anticipate God's 
intervention on behalf of Israel to reestablish his kingdom (9:11-15). 
Amos emphasizes only the near expectation of dol. Ezekiel seems to 
follow the same pattern, as will be noted later. 

Ladd, The Presence of the Future, 66. 

mayhue: day of the lord 239 


Isa 2:12 is the first mention of dol in Isaiah's prophecy. This 
chapter emphasizes the future estabHshment of God's kingdom 
(2:2-4), the present sinful state of Israel (2:5-9), and the future day of 
reckoning (2:10-22). The prophet appears to look beyond the near to 
the far future in the judgment emphasis of 2:10-22, just as he had 
looked to the eschatological kingdom in 2:1-4. There are several 
indicators of millennial conditions in 2:1-4 (cf. Rev. 20:1-6). Mt. 
Zion will be the world capital and all the nations will come to it 
(2:1-2) in order to seek God's word (2:3). God will judge between the 
nations and war will be no more (2:4-5). This eschatological emphasis 
in 2:2-4 makes it reasonable to conclude that eschatological judgment 
is in view in 2:10-22, rather than to God's chastisement of Judah by 
Assyria and Babylon."^ 

Dol is described by Isaiah as a time of universal humiliation for 
all who are proud (2:11, 12, 17). In contrast, the splendor of God's 
majesty (2:10, 19, 21) will be displayed and the Lord alone will be 
exalted in that day (2:1 1, 17). Isaiah's portrayals of dol here should 
be interpreted as referring to that time immediately preceding the 
establishment of Christ's kingdom on earth. It is a day when God's 
majesty will be outwardly manifested (2:10, 19, 21), and the popula- 
tion will be driven in terror to caves for protection (2:21, cf. Rev 

The timing and terminology of Isa 2:21 are strikingly similar to 
the description of the sixth seal in Rev 6:16-17. If these passages are 
correlated, it can be concluded that the sixth seal is a part of dol and 
occurs at the end of the Tribulation. The correlation also confirms 
that Isa 2:12 refers to the far future. As will be noted later, Zech 14:1 
and Mai 4:5 also emphasize only the far eschatological implications 
of dol. 

Isaiah 13 is the next chapter to be considered. It is an oracle 
concerning Babylon. Isa 13:1-8 deals with God's use of Babylon as 
his instrument of indignation for the destruction of Israel (13:5-6). 
This reminds one of Habakkuk's dismay that God would do such a 
thing (Hab 1:2-4). The dol was near in the mind of Isaiah (13:6), 
although it would not come for over one hundred years. It would be a 
day of destruction, terror, and pain (13:8). There is little doubt that 
this refers to the near eschatological event fulfilled by Babylon from 
605-586 B.C. 

However, there is good reason to believe that Isa 13:9-16 speaks 
of DOL implications for the far future. The near emphasis returns in 

^'E. J. Young. The Book of Isaiah, (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1972) 1. 123. n 45 
suggests that Isa 2:12 is eschatological. 


13:17-22 where the end of Babylon is described. That the far future is 
described in 13:9-16 is shown by the cosmic disturbances (13:10, 13; 
cf. Matt 24:29; Rev 6:12-13; Joel 2:31) and the universal judgment of 
mankind (13:11; cf. 2:11-12). Ladd accurately describes the interplay 
of the near and far views: 

These two visitations, the near and the far, or, as we may for con- 
venience call them, the historical and the eschatological, are not 
differentiated in time. In fact, sometimes the two blend together as 
though they were one day. Isaiah 13 calls the day of the visitation of 
Babylon the Day of the Lord. The Lord is mustering a host for battle 
(13:4-6), he will stir up the Medes against Babylon (13:17). Therefore, 
men are to "wail, for the day of the Lord is near; as destruction from 
the Almighty it will come!" (13:6). This historical Day of the Lord is 
painted against the backdrop of the eschatological Day of the Lord. 
The Day of the Lord will bring disaster to the earth and a disruption of 
the heavenly order (13:9-13). Judgment will fall both upon the world 
of nature and upon men (13:7) when God punishes the world for its 
evil and the wicked for their iniquity (13:11). Here is a picture of 
universal judgment. The Day of the Lord is the eschatological judgment 
of mankind; but the two are seen as though they were one day, one 
visitation of God." 

Isa 13:6, 9 is therefore similar to other passages previously noted 
which portray the dol in one context as both a near historical and a 
far eschatological happening. 


This seventh century B.C. prophet predicted God's judgment 
upon Judah (1:4). This dol prophecy pictures Judah as the sacrifice 
(1:7) that is offered to God by the priest Babylon. Zephaniah begins 
with a broad, universal perspective (1:1-3), and then narrows his 
focus to the immediate situation of Judah (1:4-13). Finally he returns 
to the universal in 1:14-18. That 1:4-13 is limited to the near future 
judgment upon Judah is shown by the emphasis upon Jerusalem and 
Judah (1:4, 10-12) and by the lack of any broad, universalistic 
terminology. Yet 1:1-3 and 1:14-18 speak of a far, eschatological 
destruction of the whole earth (especially 1:2-3, 18). Thus it is clear 
that like Obadiah, Joel, and Isaiah who preceded him, Zephaniah 
also includes both the near and far eschatological views in one 

In vivid terms, Zephaniah 1:14 portrays dol as a day of wrath. 
He further describes it as characterized by trouble and distress. 

Ladd, The Presence of the Future, 67. 

mayhue: day of the lord 241 

destruction and desolation, darkness and gloom, clouds and thick 
darkness, and trumpet and battle cry. The five pairs effectively specify 
what is involved in dol wrath. The sin of Judah is clearly shown to 
be the reason for this judgment (1:4-6, 9, 18). 

It may be concluded that Zephaniah skillfully weaves two strands 
of prophecy — the near future and far eschatological. At times the 
strands appear as one, but careful study shows that they are dis- 
tinguishable. Once again Ladd's summary may be noted: 

Zephaniah describes the Day of the Lord (1:7, 14) as a historical 
disaster at the hands of some unnamed foe (1:10-12, 16-17; 2:5-15); 
but he also describes it in terms of a worldwide catastrophe in which all 
creatures are swept off the face of the earth (1:2-3) so that nothing 
remains (1:18). Yet out of universal conflagration emerges a redeemed 
remnant (2:3, 7, 9), and beyond judgment is salvation both for Israel 
(3:1 1-20) and for the Gentiles (3:9-10).'* 


Ezekiel wrote in the midst of the near dol judgment (13:5). He 
was taken captive to Babylon in 597 B.C. when Jehoiachin was exiled 
(1:2). Ezekiel 13 was written in 592 B.C., six years after the second 
phase of a three phase deportation which was finalized in 586 B.C. 
Here Ezekiel prophesied against false prophets (1-16) and proph- 
etesses (17-23). They had prophesied from their own hearts (13:2) 
and preached an imaginary 'peace' when in fact there was no peace 
(13:10). Ezekiel indicts them for being like foxes among ruins (13:4). 
Instead of fortifying the wall, they tunneled underneath it.^^ They 
plastered the wall with whitewash in order to give the wall the 
appearance of strength (13:10-15). Yet God's judgment (described as 
rain, hail, and wind) would tear down the wall (13:10-15). Ezekiel 
was the only prophet who wrote during his experience of the near dol. 
Later Jeremiah looked back on Jerusalem after the near dol and 
cried out in terms reminiscent of dol prophecies (Lam 2:22). It seems 
best to understand dol in Ezekiel 13 as a reference to the time from 
the beginning of Judah's deportation in 605 B.C. to Jerusalem's razing 
in 586 B.C. Ezekiel 13, like Amos, speaks only about the near (in this 
case, present) dol. 

Writing later on in 570 B.C. (29:17), Ezekiel noted a dol with 
respect to Egypt's demise (29:19-20). It is strikingly similar to Oba- 
diah's prophecy against Edom. The fall of Jerusalem served as the 
historical verification for the Egyptians that what Ezekiel wrote 
would come to pass. God's instrument was to be Nebuchadnezzar, 

''ibid., 67. 

"Keil, Minor Prophets, 165. 


king of Babylon (30:10, cf. Zeph 1:7-13) in 568 B.C. Not only Egypt, 
but also all of the nations aligned with her were to be toppled 

The far eschatological application to all nations is never explicitly 
made in Ezekiel as in Obad 15-21. Yet Feinberg suggests that such an 
application may be assumed. The day of God's judgment on Egypt 
may be identified in principle with that day when he will call all 
nations to account. ^° Jer 46:1-26 deals similarly, yet in greater detail, 
with the fall of Egypt. 

Zechariah '^~~ 

Zechariah is the first post-exilic prophet to speak explicitly of 
DOL. Because the Assyrian and Babylonian judgments were history, 
Zechariah's entire prophecy deals with the far eschatological expecta- 
tion. His subject in chap. 14 is dol and its subsequent results. The 
chapter states that things will get worse (14:2, 5) before they get better 
(14:1, 14). God will then intervene against the nations and fight on 
Israel's behalf (14:3-5, 12-13). This pictures Christ's return at 
Armageddon (cf. Joel 3, Matthew 24, Revelation 19) to establish his 
millennial kingdom and to claim his rightful place on the throne of 
David. Zechariah 14 should be read in the light of Obad 15-21; Joel 
2:28-3:21; Isa 2:12; 13:9; and Zeph 1:14. 

Some have mistakenly interpreted Zechariah 14 in a non-eschato- 
logical manner. Leupold views it in a figurative continuous historical 
sense describing NT times. ^' Laetsch believes that the passage is 
fulfilled in the Roman papacy. ^^ However, it must be insisted that 
nothing in history has yet come remotely close to fulfilling the cata- 
clysmic and conclusive events which Zechariah predicts (14:6-1 1). 

It is taught by some that dol is a time of both judgment and 
blessing. The phrase 'that day' in Zechariah 14 is cited as evidence of 
this. The phrase appears seven times in Zechariah 14. In vv 4, 6, 13, 
and 21 it describes God's judgment, while in vv 8, 9, and 20 it does 
not really describe the blessings of dol but rather events subsequent 
to dol. In DOL contexts Joel 2:18-30 and 3:18-21 also speak of 
restoration and blessing for Israel. But such blessing is subsequent to 
DOL — not a part of it. Several observations support this view. First, 
every OT dol passage speaks in a context of God's judgment upon 
sinful Israel. Second, the fulfillment of dol in the near future sense 
never involved blessing. Third, not all of the passages that deal with 

Feinberg, The Minor Prophets, 173. 

H. C. Leupold, Exposition of Zechariah (reprint; Grand Rapids: Baker, 1971) 

"Laetsch, 772^' Minor Prophets, 465. 

mayhue: day of the lord 243 

DOL in the far eschatological realm mention blessing (cf. Isa 2:12; 
Isa 13:9; Zeph 14:1). Finally, dol is always described as a day of 
God's anger and wrath, not a day of God's blessing. Thus it may be 
concluded that dol is the time when God intervenes as the righteous 
judge to impose and execute his decreed punishment. After the 
eschatological dol fulfills God's judgments, God will reign on earth 
and bless his people. The blessings which are an attendant feature of 
DOL are chronologically consequent to it, not inherent within it. 


The great and terrible day of Mai 4:5 (cf. Joel 2:11, 31; Zeph 
1:14) is described in 4:1-3. It is clearly a day of judgment, as the 
references to furnaces, fire, chaff and ash clearly show. It points to 
the end of the eschatological tribulation period when the wrath of the 
Lamb and Almighty God will poured out (cf. Rev 6:16-17, 16:14). 


God's servants the prophets spoke of dol as both near historical 
and far eschatological events. In many passages there is a movement 
from the near to the far dol. This relationship between near and far 
can be seen in Obadiah, Joel, Isaiah and Zephaniah. Beecher com- 
mented, "the prophets thought of the day of Yahweh as generic, not 
occasions which would occur once for all, but one which might be 
repeated as circumstances called for it."" Kaiser, who has been influ- 
enced by Beecher, similarly explains that, "that final time would be 
climactic and the sum of all the rest. Though the events of their own 
times fitted the pattern of God's future judgment, that final day was 
nevertheless immeasurably larger and more permanent in its salvific 
and judgmental effects."^'' 

Dol prophecies were fulfilled in various ways. These included 

(1) the Assyrian deportment of Israel ca. 722 B.C. (Amos 5:18, 20), 

(2) the Assyrian invasion of Judah ca. 701 B.C. (Joel 1:15; 2:1; 2:11), 

(3) the Babylonian exile of Judah ca. 605-586 B.C. (Joel 1 : 1 5; 2: 1 , 1 1 ; 
13:6; Zeph 1:7; Ezek 13:5), (4) the Babylonian defeat of Egypt ca. 
568 B.C. (Ezek 30:3), (5) the demise of Edom (Obad 1-14), and 
(6) the eschatological judgments of the tribulation period (Obad 15; 
Joel 2:31; 3:14; Isa 2:12; 13:9; Zech 14:1; Mai 4:5). 

Specific fulfillments of dol prophecies are detailed in Scripture. 
But the question arises whether there are dol events which are not 

"Beecher, The Prophets and the Promise, 311. 
'"Kaiser, Towards an Old Testament Theology, 191. 


specifically named as such in Scripture. This is a difficult question 
because God has certainly intervened in human affairs on more 
occasions than the prophets specifically outline. The Genesis flood 
and the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah would seem to be cases 
in point. On the other hand, some seem to view every disaster in 
history as a dol event. The solution to the question is to understand 
that the prophets were calling for present repentance in light of both 
a near historical judgment and an ultimate eschatological judgment. 
Feinberg provides a biblically balanced approach to this problem: 
"Some have interpreted the significant phrase [dol] to mean any time 
in which God's judgments are experienced on earth. Although such 
an interpretation will allow for all the references to be included under 
it, nevertheless it empties the words of their well-known eschatologi- 
cal force. "^^ 

The prominent theme of every dol prophecy is God's judgment 
of sin. The blessings of God's reign are subsequent to and a result of 
the DOL, but they are not a part of it. 

Imminency often characterizes dol. In Joel 1:15; 2:1; Isa 13:6; 
Zeph 1:7; and Ezek 30:3, near historical fulfillments are prominent. 
The far event is described as "near" in Obad 15; Joel 3:14; and Zeph 
1:14. In the prophets' minds, the event was certainly coming and 
would one day occur in the indeterminate future, dol judgments are 
poured out on individual nations, such as Edom, Egypt and its allies, 
and Israel. Yet such judgments will one day be inflicted upon all of 
the nations according to Obad 15 and Zech 14:1. Tasker has written 
this lucid summary: 

The expression "the day of the Lord" at the time of the rise of the great 
prophets of Israel denoted an event to which the Israelites were looking 
forward as the day of Jehovah's final vindication of the righteousness 
of His people against their enemies. One of the tasks of the prophets 
was to insist that in fact "the day of the Lord" would be a day on 
which God would vindicate '"His own righteousness" not only against 
the enemies of Israel, but also against Israel itself. This "day of the 
Lord" throughout Old Testament prophecy remains a future reality, 
though there were events within the history covered by the Old 
Testament story which were indeed days of judgment both upon Israel 
and upon the surrounding nations which had oppressed her." 

Ladd has eloquently stated the historical-eschatological tension 
which pressed and pulled at the prophet. His comments are worth 

"Feinberg, The Minor Prophets, 172. 

"R. V. G. Tasker, The Biblical Doctrine of the Wrath q/'Goc/ (London: Tyndale, 

mayhue: day of the lord 245 

In all of these prophecies, history and eschatology are so blended 
together as to be practically indistinguishable. Sometimes, however, the 
eschatological Day stands in the background on the distant horizon." 

The prophets viewed the immediate historical future against the back- 
ground of the final eschatological consummation, for the same God 
who was acting in history would finally establish his Kingdom. There- 
fore, the Day of the Lord was near because God was about to act; and 
the historical event was in a real sense an anticipation of the final 
eschatological deed, for it was the working of the same God for the 
same redemptive purpose. The historical imminence of the Day of the 
Lord did not include all that the Day of the Lord meant; history and 
eschatology were held in a dynamic tension, for both were the Day of 
the Lord. This bond was broken in the apocalypses. Eschatology stood 
in the future, unrelated to present historical events. The God of 
eschatology was no longer the God of history.^* 

Proposed Pattern 

The DOL is a biblical phrase used by God's prophets to describe 
either the immediate future or the ultimate eschatological consumma- 
tion.^^ It is not a technical term in the sense that it always refers only 
to one event in God's plan. 

It may designate a divinely-sent locust plague (Joel 1:15) or the 
providential fall of Babylon (Isa 13:6) or of Jerusalem (Zeph 1:14-15, 
18; 2:1); and in one given context it may describe first a judgment and 
then a corresponding deliverance (compare with the above prophecies 
Joel 3:14, 18 and Zeph 3:8, 11, 16; cf. also Obad 15, 17; Zech 14:1, 

DOL is used to describe several events and is limited only by its 
mention in biblical revelation. Each appearance of dol must be 
interpreted in its context to determine whether the prophet expected 
the immediate historical act of God or Yahweh's ultimate eschato- 
logical visitation."" Dol is not bound to a definite time duration. It 
could last only for hours or it could continue for days. Only context 
can determine dol longevity, and even then only general approxima- 
tion can be made. 

Ladd, The Presence of the Future, 68. 

''ibid., 320. 

"Beecher (The Prophets and the Promise, 130) defines a generic prophecy as one 
which "regards an event as occurring in a series of parts, separated by intervals, and 
expresses itself in language that may apply indifferently to the nearest part, or to the 
remoter part, or to the whole — in other words, a prediction which, in applying to the 
whole of a complex event, also applies to some of its parts." 

■""Payne, The fmminent Appearing of Christ, 60. 

"'Ladd, The Presence of the Future, 74. 


Contribution to NT Studies 

Theology is a descriptive term applied to a systematization of 
biblical data. Therefore, it should be continually subject to change 
and sharpening where Scripture warrants. Dol is one aspect of 
theology which needs meaningful review and rethinking. A refined 
understanding of the OT dol data bears fruit for NT studies. 

As a result of this study of dol in OT, I suggest that there are 
two periods of dol yet to be fulfilled on earth: (1) the judgment 
which climaxes the tribulation period (2 Thess 2:2; Rev 16-18), and 
(2) the consummating judgment of this earth which ushers in the new 
earth (2 Pet 3:10-13; Rev 20:7-21:1). I would also suggest that dol 
will occur only at the end of the tribulation period, not throughout its 
duration, and that dol will occur only at the end of the millennium, 
not throughout its duration. 

This study concludes where an attendant study should begin. 
That study would examine dol in the NT in the light of what has 
been learned from the OT. In my view, the traditional dispensational 
definition of dol beginning at the pretribulational rapture and ex- 
tending throughout the millennium'*^ or beginning with Christ's second 
coming and extending through the millennium'*^ needs to be modified. 
The insight gained from the OT use of dol provides a basis for a 
more accurate interpretation of Acts 2:20, 1 Thess 5:2, 2 Thess 2:2 
and 2 Pet 3:10 and a stronger defense of both premillennialism and 

■""D. E. Hiebert (The Thessalonian Epistles [Chicago: Moody, 1971] 211) states 
that "the day of the Lord is inaugurated with the rapture of the church as described in 
4:13-18, covers the time of the great tribulation, and involves His return to earth and 
the establishment of His messianic reign." Also E. Schuyler English, ed. (The New 
Scofield Reference Bible, 1372) has a note which says "It will begin with the translation 
of the church and will terminate with the cleaning of the heavens and the earth 
preparatory to the bringing into being of the new heavens and the new earth." 

"'C. L Scofield (ed.. The Scofield Reference Bible [Oxford: Oxford University 
Press, 1909] 1349) believed that "The day of Jehovah (called, also, "that day" and "the 
great day") is that lengthened period of time beginning with the return of the Lord in 
glory, and ending with the purgation of the heavens and the earth by fire preparatory 
to the new heavens and the new earth (isa 65:17-19; 66:22; 2 Pet 3:13; Rev 21:1)." See 
also L. S. Chafer, Systematic Theology (Dallas: Dallas Seminary, 1948) 4. 398 and 
V. R. Edmond, "The Coming Day of the Lord," in Hastening the Day of God, ed. by 
John Bradbury (Wheaton: Van Kampen, 1953) 233. For other notable examples see 
G. N. H. Peters, The Theocratic Kingdom (Reprint; Grand Rapids: Kregel, 1957) 410 
and H. C. Thiessen, Introductory Lectures in Systematic Theology (Grand Rapids: 
Eerdmans, 1952)507. 

I concur with the words of C. E. Mason, Jr. (Prophetic Problems and Alternate 
Solutions, [Chicago; Moody, 1973] 325); "The writer is a great believer in free 
discussion among those of the premillennial, dispensational viewpoint and is of the 
conviction that much of our thrust has been blunted by arbitrary and stylized 
distinctions which are not a valid part of the view. In addition, there seems to be a 
hesitancy to debate such matters lest one be thought suspect in the house of his friends, 
if the result of his study should lead to the sacrifice of a sacred cow." 

Grace TheologicalJournal 6.2 (\9%5) 247-256 


Kenneth O. Gangel 

The vision of Daniel 7. like the dream of Daniel 2, gives a picture 
of history future to the time of the writing of the book of Daniel (ca. 
6th century B.c.j. Each of the four beasts represents a kingdom, the 
last one being Rome. The Roman empire has two phases, one past 
and one future. Correlations can be traced between Daniel 7 and the 
book of Revelation. 


THE book of Daniel may be outlined as having two sections, the 
first section consisting of chaps. 1-6 and the second of chaps. 
7-12. The vision in Daniel 7 portrays the same chronological order of 
events as is found in Nebuchadnezzar's dream (Dan 2:31-45). It is 
important, however, to grasp the chronology of the book itself. The 
vision recorded in Daniel 7 occurred in approximately 553 B.C., four- 
teen years before the events recorded in chap. 5. Indeed, chaps. 7 and 
8 (set as they are in the first and third years of the reign of Belshazzar) 
fit historically between chaps. 4 and 5. 

Daniel 7 links with the first part of the book partly because it is 
in Aramaic and therefore seems to continue the narrative of 2:4-6:28, 
but also because it parallels the subject matter, particularly of chap. 2. 
Baldwin writes, "Looked at in relation to the Aramaic section this 
chapter [Daniel 7] constitutes the climax, and it is the high point in 
relation to the whole book; subsequent chapters treat only part of the 
picture and concentrate on some particular aspect of it."' 

But Daniel 7 is as marked by disparity from the previous six 
chapters as it is by similarity. For one thing, beginning in Daniel 7 
and throughout the second half of the book, information is received 
through angelic mediation rather than through dreams as it had been 
in Daniel 1-6. The method of reporting also changes, switching from 
the third to the first person. 

Joyce G. Baldwin, Daniel (TOJO, Downers Grove: InterVarsity, 1978) 137. 


It is essential and unavoidable to compare chap. 2 with chap. 7. 
Culver has summarized the comparisons succinctly. 

The differences between the dream prophecy of chapter 2 and the 
vision prophecy of chapter 7 are chiefly as follows: 1) The dream was 
not seen originally by a man of God but by a heathen monarch, hence 
it was something that would appeal to such a man and which might be 
readily explicable to his intellect. The vision was seen by a holy man of 
God, and hence in terms more readily explicable to his intellect. 2) The 
first presented the history of nations in their outward aspect — majestic, 
splendid; the second in their inward spiritual aspect — as ravening wild 
beasts. This might be elaborated to say that the first is a view of the 
history of nations as man sees them, the second as God sees them. 

Since the same general subject is treated in this vision as in the 
dream of chapter 2 it is natural that the same general principles present 
in that prophecy should follow here — the same series of powers, the 
same continuity of rule, degeneration and character of authority, divi- 
sion of sovereignty, and increasing strength of the kingdoms.^ 

Some have suggested that chap. 2 is the cosmological view (perhaps 
even the cosmetic view) of the nations whereas chap. 7 provides the 
spiritual view, which demonstrates the onerous reality of the pagan 

This study focuses attention on the vision of the four beasts and 
the Ancient of Days in Daniel 7. This study does not discuss similar- 
ities between Daniel 7 and other ancient works^ but seeks to elucidate 
the text as it is found. 


Dan 7:1-7, 15-17 describes the vision of the four beasts. The 
question of how to understand the metaphorical phrases such as "the 
four winds" (7:2) is crucial. The image of "wind" in the book of 
Daniel seems to be used of God's sovereign power and therefore 
suggests a picture of heavenly forces (2:35, 44). Some have suggested 
that "four" symbolizes the completeness of the whole earth. 

This image is used to describe the chaos from which the four 
beasts arise. It occurs already in Isaiah and Jeremiah where the roar of 
nations is compared to the roaring of the seas (Isa. 17:12-13; Jer. 6:23). 
The four winds need not signify more than the totality of the earth, the 
whole earth, the four corners."* 

'Robert D. Culver, Daniel and the Latter Days (Westwood: Revell. 1954) 126. 

^For an article that sees similarities between Daniel 7 and other ancient works see 
Helge S. Kvanvig, "An Akkadian Vision as Background for Daniel 7?" 57 35 (1981) 

"Ziony Zevit, "The Structure and Individual Elements of Daniel 7," ZNW, 80 


Daniel also sees a "great sea," quite possibly a picture of humanity 
(cf. Luke 21:25; Matt 13:47; Rev 13:1), suggesting unrest and con- 
fusion. The world rages like a sea when it is whipped by the heavenly 
winds. Daniel relates that four different great beasts come up out of 
this troubled sea (7:3). 

The lion with the eagle's wings (7:4) parallels the gold head of 
2:37, 38. The lion signifies strength and the eagle's wings, swiftness. The 
reference to "heart of man" may point to the individual at the center 
of the kingdom of Babylon, Nebuchadnezzar himself (Jer 49:19-22), 
or it may refer back to the events of 4:34. Throughout the book of 
Daniel, God shows Nebuchadnezzar the source of his authority and 
how his and all other human monarchies fade into insignificance 
when confronted with the absolute reign of God. Pusey notes, "The 
intense nothingness and transitoriness of man's might in its highest 
estate, and so of his, Nebuchadnezzar's own also, and the might of 
God's kingdom, apart from all human strength, are the chief subjects 
of this vision, as explained to Nebuchadnezzar."^ 

The second beast "looked like a bear" (7:5). Though bears appear 
thirteen times in the Bible, the use of the simile here should be cor- 
related with the silver breast of 2:39. It depicts the kingdom of Persia. 
The size of the animal may be intended to symbolize the size of the 
Persian armies, which contained as many as two and a half million 
men (notably in the battles of Xerxes against Greece). The posture 
("raised up on one side") is thought by some to indicate a predatory 
stance — as if the great beast were about ready to pounce. Others 
suggest that this symbolizes the dominance of Persia in the Medo- 
Persian Empire. The interpretation of the three ribs in the bear's 
mouth is also debated. Gaebelein indicates, "The bear had three ribs 
in its mouth, because Susiana, Lydia and Asia Minor had been 
conquered by this power."^ Leupold generalizes the number. 

"Three" appears to be a number that signifies rather substantial con- 
quests and is not to be taken literally. For the Medo-Persian empire 
conquered more than Babylonia, Lydia, and Egypt. Such enumerations 
of three definite powers are more or less arbitrary. Three does some- 
times signify nothing more than a fairly large number and has no 
reference to God or the holy Trinity. That is especially true in a case 
like this. Someone has rightly remarked that "the three ribs constitute a 

The third beast "looked like a leopard" (7:6). It had four wings, 
four heads, and was given authority to rule. Babylon had seized 

'E. B. Pusey, Daniel the Prophet (New York: Funk and Wagnalls, 1885) 1 18. 
*Arno C. Gaebelein, The Prophet Daniel {New York: Our Hope, 191 1) 74. 
'H. C. Leupold, Exposition of Daniel (Grand Rapids: Baker. 1941) 292. 


power from Assyria in 612 B.C. only to lose it to the Medo- Persians 
in 539 B.C. Then in 336 B.C. Alexander came like a leopard from his 
lair with his Greek army headed by four generals and known, not for 
its size like Persia, but for its speed. The leopard should be correlated 
with the bronze belly and thighs of 2:39. 

Most conservative scholars believe that Daniel was written in the 
sixth century B.C. but other scholars assume that the book is a second 
century B.C. diatribe against Antiochus Epiphanes. Such scholars 
usually consider the four kingdoms of Daniel 7 to be Babylon, Media, 
Persia, and Greece. Rome is often omitted entirely from the interpre- 
tation of the beasts. Hanhart, however, believes that the third beast 
portrays Rome. He dates Daniel in the second century B.C. and views 
the dream of Daniel and the vision of Daniel 7 as referring to four 
contemporary kingdoms, not a succession of sequential kingdoms. 
Part of his argument is based upon Rev 13:2: 

A clue, hidden in Rev. 13:2, namely that the leopard in Dan. 7:6 
must represent the Romans and not the Parthians, strengthens an earlier 
observation that the four beasts in Dan. 7 represent four contempora- 
neous kingdoms existing alongside each other. These two data upset 
the age old axiom that in Dan. 2:31 ff. and in 7:2 ff. the same empires 
are intended, for in the order of succeeding kingdoms the Roman 
empire cannot possibly appear ahead of that of the Hellenes. The 
introductory phrase, "The four winds of heaven were stirring up the 
great sea," leads me to conclude that the four kingdoms in Dan. 7 
are situated around the Mediterranean Sea according to the four points 
of the compass, to wit: South— Egypt, the lion; East — Persia, the 
bear; West — Rome, the leopard; North — Syria, the anonymous beast. 

Hanhart's approach is imaginative but has not been widely accepted. 
It seems clear that the symbolism of Daniel 2, 7, and 8 portrays a 
succession of four kingdoms. 

The final beast is "terrifying and frightening and very powerful" 
(7:7). It was different from the other beasts in several ways, not the 
least of which was its ten horns. The iron teeth of 7:7 correspond with 
the iron legs of 2:33 and the ten horns with the ten toes. Most con- 
servatives identify this beast as Rome.^ Rome ruled the world for 
over 700 years from 336 B.C. to a.d. 407. Even after the sack of Rome 
there were "Roman" rulers until the time of the Renaissance. 

Anderson compares the dream and the vision: 

*K. Hanhart, "The Four Beasts of Daniel's Vision in the Night in the Light of 
Rev. 13:2," yvrS 27 (1981) 580-8L 

For a conservative but unconvincing attempt to identify the fourth beast as 
Greece, see Robert J. M. Gurney, "The Four Kingdoms of Daniel 2 and 7" Themelios 


As the four empires which were destined successively to wield 
sovereign power during "the times of the Gentiles" are represented in 
Nebuchadnezzar's dream by the four divisions of the great image, they 
are here typified by four wild beasts. The ten toes of the image in the 
second chapter have their correlatives in the ten horns of the fourth 
beast in the seventh chapter. The character and course of the fourth 
empire are the prominent subject of the later vision, but both prophecies 
are equally explicit yet the empire in its ultimate phase will be brought 
to a signal and sudden end by a manifestation of Divine power on 

This is certainly a lugubrious scene for the aging Daniel. Jerusalem 
had been in ruins for more than forty years and Daniel had been in 
Babylon for close to sixty years. The prophet had seen kings come 
and go and then God had revealed to him how he would prepare the 
world for the Messiah's kingdom. The beasts were important in the 
divine plan. Persia, the second beast, was to send the people of God 
back to their own land. Greece, the third beast, would spread a 
culture and a language by which the Gospel would be communicated 
all over the Mediterranean world. Rome, the fourth beast, would 
build roads and write' laws so that Christ's messengers could carry his 
Word wherever they were sent. 

Before Daniel was able to inquire about any details regarding the 
terrible beast and the little horn, he saw the Ancient of Days enter the 
scene (Dan 7:9-10). But before looking at these verses, I will briefly 
consider the vision of the little horn. 


The vision of the little horn is recorded in Dan 7:11-12, 19-25. 
After all of the beasts had been "stripped of their authority" (7:12), 
each was "allowed to live for a period of time." Some suggest that 
this phrase means that each lived out its God-ordained time. Another 
possibility is that each lived on into the next in the way that Greek 
culture continued throughout the Roman era. The one exception is 
the fourth beast which was completely slain, destroyed and thrown 
into the blazing fire. Concerning the fourth beast, its ten horns and 
particularly the little horn, three questions surface. 

What About the Fourth Beast? 

I noted above that the fourth beast corresponds to the legs and 
feet of the image in Daniel 2, and that both are to be equated with the 
Roman Empire. But the fourth kingdom is different from the others 

'"Robert Anderson, The Coming Prince (London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1903) 
36, 37. 


in that it will be revived in some form at the end time. The connection 
with the future kingdom of Rev 17:12 cannot be overlooked. Culver 
reminds us, "Nearly all Postmillennialists, Amillennialists, and Pre- 
millennialists unite in affirming that the Man of Sin of Paul and the 
Antichrist and first Beast of John are the same as this 'little horn' of 
Daniel seven."" The intense cruelty demonstrated by the fourth beast 
is its prim.ary distinctive; it tramples down and crushes as its wanton 
cruelty destroys the world. 

What About the Ten Horns? 

There will be dissension within the fourth beast's kingdom. The 
eleventh king (the little horn) will subdue three lesser kings. Anderson 
reminds us that the ascendence of the little horn has not been fulfilled 
historically and suggests that "the Roman earth shall one day be 
parceled out in ten separate kingdoms, and out of one there shall 
arise that terrible enemy of God and His people, whose destruction is 
to be one of the events of the second advent of Christ."'^ 

What About the Little Horn? 

Dan l:20b-25 unfolds the first thorough biblical description of 
the Antichrist. Daniel 8 may refer to Antiochus Epiphanes, but only 
the Antichrist can be in view in Daniel 7 (cf. Rev 19:19-21). Daniel 
was especially interested in this aspect of the fourth beast's kingdom 
(7:20). At the beginning the little horn will be just another human 
king (7:8). But then he will become greater than the "horns" before 
him (7:20) and will be uniquely different from the other horns (7:20, 
24), running an absolute dictatorship. Through his keen intelligence 
(7:8, 20) he will conquer three kings and will boastfully represent 
himself as the ultimate lawless one (2 Thess 2:9, 10). His ultimate 
enemy is not any of his contemporary kings but the people of God 
and, therefore, God himself. Even though the saints of God will be 
given into his hand, his time is limited — "a time, times and half a 
time" (7:25). Baldwin well summarizes the main features of the little 

Four characteristics of his role are given: i) blasphemy, ii) long- 
drawn-out persecution (wear out, as a garment, implies this), iii) a new 
table of religious festivals (so suppressing Israel's holy days) and iv) a 
new morality; the outcome will be the subjugation of God's people. Of 
these the third and fourth indicate an intention which is not necessarily 
allowed to be carried out, but the people are given into his hand. A 

"Culver, Daniel. 131. 

'^Anderson, The Coming Prince. 40. 


greater than he is in control, and whereas this last king thought to 
change the times, the greater than he has decreed the time, two times, 
and half a time. The expected progression, one, two, three is cut off 
arbitrarily but decisively.'^ 


The picture of Jehovah as seen by Daniel reminds one of the 
marvelous worship hymn, "Immortal, Invisible God Only Wise." The 
imagery of the passage points to holiness, authority, power and wor- 
ship. The phrase "Ancient of Days" is used only three times in 
Scripture, all of them in this chapter (7: 10, 13, and 22). 

It is the name given to the eternal God. Before ever time began. 
He is the great I AM. He has always had one clear objective which is 
described as His "eternal purpose" (Eph. 3:1 1). He has never deviated 
from this intention of His and when time is no more. He will still be 
the I AM, though now with the full realisation of that heart purpose of 

One cannot ignore the connection with Rev 5:1 1. "Then I looked 
and heard the voice of many angels, numbering thousands upon thou- 
sands, and ten thousand times ten thousand. They encircled the throne 
and the living creatures and the elders." The open books of 7:10 
surely should be connected with the books of Rev 20:12. 

Daniel also provides a picture of the Son of Man. Jesus used this 
phrase of himself twenty-seven times in Luke alone. The image of 
clouds in v 13 is reminiscent of Sinai (Exod 16:10) and is perhaps the 
basis for Matt 24:30. Bock points out how the NT development of the 
term "Son of Man" completes the picture begun by Daniel. He sum- 
marizes this NT development in the following nine statements: 

1. Jesus progressively revealed His messianic understanding of the term. 

2. The messianic significance of the term for Jesus is eventually directly 
revealed by Jesus to the disciples after Peter's confession at Caesarea 

3. Jesus fuses the term with other Old Testament descriptions of His 
mission, specifically the Servant, and thus is able to speak of the 
Son of Man's necessity to suffer in the suffering sayings which domi- 
nate the middle portions of the gospels. 

4. As Jesus faces the cross. He begins to reveal to His disciples the 
background and significance of the term Son of Man in terms of 
Daniel seven with the apocalyptic sayings. 

'^Baldwin, Daniel, 146. 

'"Harry Foster, "The Secret of Daniel's Strength," Toward the Mark 10 (1981) 8. 


5. This same background is revealed publicly at His trial before the 

6. Thus the term is a convenient vehicle for revealing Himself to those 
who believe, while avoiding the immediate political connotations of 
the term, Messiah. 

7. The usage in John's gospel parallels that of the Synoptics while 
reflecting a development of themes implicit in both the Synoptics 
and Daniel seven. 

8. The term in its Danielic usage in the New Testament has in view His 
ultimate victory and apocalyptic return, a significant fact in view of 
His approaching Passion. 

9. Therefore, the term is most appropriate for summarizing Christ's 
Christology, for in it one like a man who is more than a man 
exercises dominion and authority to such an extent that he can also 
be considered divine. As such. He will be the center of a new king- 
dom, king in a new age when all men will recognize His authority 
and worship His person. God's sovereign plan of history will culmi- 
nate in the completion of the Son of Man's mission in eternal 
victory. His future return in vindication makes this certain, even as 
He heads for the cross. In the promise of His victory, disciples can 
walk in hope and expectation even though He went to the cross. His 
rule will cause all men to pause at the marvelous grace of God as it 
is observed that Jesus the Christ, the Son of Man, is truly the 
greatest One whoever walked the earth. '^ 

In Daniel's vision the Son of Man stood in the presence of the 
Ancient of Days, and "was given authority, glory and sovereign power; 
all peoples, nations and men of every language worshiped him. His 
dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and His 
kingdom is one that will never be destroyed" (7:14). The basis for NT 
interpretation of the concept of "kingdom" begins here. The millen- 
nium is just the beginning of the eternal kingdom, but in the OT the 
concept merges into the eternal state. God will ultimately bring 
together the saints of all the ages who will possess the everlasting 
kingdom of the Son of Man (7:27). 

In the light of Daniel's language and its NT development one 
wonders about the validity of Zevit's angelic interpretation: 

It is the angel Gabriel, representing saints of the Most High, who 
receives dominion, glory and kingship — basic elements of God's king- 
dom. The interpretation of the vision makes it quite clear that it is the 
saints who will receive the kingdom. The author did not dwell on the 
angelic figure because he took him for granted. Gabriel and a number 
of other heavenly beings continued to function throughout the book 

'^Darrell L. Bock. "The Son of Man in Daniel and the Messiah" (unpublished 
Th.M. thesis; Dallas: Dallas Theological Seminary, 1979) 97-100. 


because the major concern of the author was not with the celestial, but 
with the terrestrial.'^ 

One need not belittle the importance of angels in rejecting such an 
inadequate approach, especially in view of Hebrews 1. 


Those who study and teach prophecy are sometimes justly accused 
of having no concern for the present. Yet this chapter of deep escha- 
tological significance also contains a number of lessons for the present 

This vision reminds believers that the control of the world belongs 
to God (cf. Dan 4:17; 5:20). The world may deny him, curse him, 
laugh at him, or ignore him as various kingdoms rise and fall. But 
when the throne of the Ancient of Days is set in place, every knee 
shall bow. The Son of Man and his saints will then prevail. The Son 
of Man is not a mere collective personification for the saints. As 
Boutflower explains, 

. . . "The saints" belong to the vision, and not merely to its inter- 
pretation. They have already appeared in the vision as a persecuted 
people. It is, therefore, most unlikely that in its further development 
they should be represented in symbol by a single individual. But in as 
much as the kingdom given to "One like unto a Son of Man" is seen to 
be given also to "the saints," we are forced to conclude that the 
mysterious person thus described is the God-appointed head of the 

Daniel 7 also reminds believers that Satan is indeed the prince of 
this world (cf. John 12:31; 14:30; Eph 2:2). Such an awareness, how- 
ever, should not lead to monasticism. Daniel is a great historic 
example of a godly leader in a pagan society. To be sure, believers are 
pilgrims and strangers in the world but that status should not lead to 
a total withdrawal from existing society. 

The passage also suggests that believers' lives should reflect their 
eschatology (7:15, 28). Peter makes the point succinctly when he asks, 
"Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people 
ought you to be?"(l Pet 3:11). Then he answers his own question by 
saying, "You want to live holy and godly lives as you look forward to 
the day of God and speed its coming"(3:llZ)-12a'). 

'^Zevit, "Daniel 7," 396. 

"Charles Boutflower, In and Around the Book of Daniel (reprmv. Grand Rapids: 
Kregel, 1977) 59. 


It is imperative that with bowed hearts all of God's people 
recognize that the ultimate glory belongs to him alone (Rev 11:15, 

Careless seems the great Avenger, history's pages but record 

One death-grapple in the darkness 'twixt old systems and Thy Word. 

Truth forever on the scaffold; wrong forever on the throne! Yet that 

Scaffold sways the future, and beyond the dim unknown 

Standeth God within the shadows, keeping watch above His own.'^ 

'^Quoted by Robert D. Culver (unpublished class notes; Trinity Evangelical Divin- 
ity School, September. 1972). 

Grace TheologicalJoumal 6.2 {\9E5) 257-266 




John F. Walvoord 

Matthew 24 is a crucial passage in the debate between pre- and 
posttribulationists. The context of Matthew 24 and especially vv 40- 
41 argues that a posttribulational rapture is not being taught. Rather 
Christ, on the analogy of Noah's flood, spoke of some being taken in 
judgment. Thus it can be concluded that no biblical text places the 
rapture after the tribulation. 


AMONG premillenarians, the question as to whether the rapture of 
the church occurs before or after the end time tribulation con- 
tinues to be a Hve subject for debate. Among other eschatological 
points of view such as postmillenniaHsm and amillennialism, it is 
assumed that the rapture is a part of the second coming of Christ and 
therefore is posttribulational. Postmillenarians and amillenarians ac- 
cept almost without question a posttribulational rapture because they 
interpret prophecies of the events leading up to the second coming 
nonliterally. By contrast premillenialism depends upon a literal inter- 
pretation of prophecy. 

Among premillenarians, however, the issue of pretribulationism 
continues to be discussed, and books continue to be published on the 
issues involved. The differences of opinion stem largely from the 
question as to whether end time prophecies are to be interpreted 
literally, especially as they distinguish Israel's future from that of the 
church, the body of Christ. 

Both pretribulationists and posttribulationists are confronted 
with the fact that the Scripture does not expressly state either view. 
Pretribulationists find what approximates a direct teaching of their 
view in 2 Thessalonians 2 where the lawless one is said to be revealed 
only after the restrainer is removed. The traditional interpretation 


among pretribulationists is that the restrainer is the Holy Spirit who 
indwells the church. Thus, it is the Holy Spirit (and by implication 
the church) who must be removed before the lawless one can be 
revealed.' If the lawless one is the end time ruler, he would be revealed 
at least seven years before the second coming of Christ. According to 
this interpretation of 2 Thessalonians 2, then, the rapture occurs prior 
to the tribulation. Posttribulationists, of course, dispute this interpre- 
tation and interpret the passage in a manner that does not yield a 
pretribulational sequence of end time events.^ 

What is often overlooked in the discussion by posttribulationists 
is that they also lack a specific statement that the rapture of the 
church occurs at the time of Christ's second coming to set up his 
kingdom. It is quite common for posttribulationists to challenge pre- 
tribulationists to offer a single verse in the Bible that teaches their 
position. Pretribulationism counters by offering passages that imply 
it, such as 2 Thessalonians 2. Pretribulationists also point out that all 
the passages clearly identified as referring to the rapture name no 
preceding events. On the other hand, passages dealing with the second 
coming of Christ to set up his kingdom predict a complicated series 
of world-shaking events such as are described in Revelation 6-18 and 
other passages dealing with the end time. 

Posttribulationists are also embarrassed by the fact that the 
most detailed account of the second coming of Christ, found in 
Revelation 19-20, nowhere mentions either a rapture or a resurrection 
in connection with Christ's coming from heaven to earth, and there is 
no legitimate place to insert the events of 1 Thessalonians 4. Accord- 
ingly posttribulationists recognize the need for a specific passage that 
will support the posttribulational view. This for many posttribulation- 
ists is found in Matthew 24. This chapter of the Bible, therefore, 
becomes a strategic crux interpretum in the debate between the two 
views. Those who hold a midtribulational view, that is, that the 
rapture will occur three and one-half years before the second coming 
of Christ, also turn to Matthew 24. The discussion of this portion of 
Scripture and its proper exegesis, therefore, becomes quite determina- 
tive in any conclusion as to where the rapture fits into the prophetic 

'E.g., see D. Edmond Hiebert, The Thessalonian Epistles (Chicsigo: Moody, 1971) 
313-14; J. Dwight Pentecost, Things to Come (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1958) 
259-63; and John F. Walvoord, "Is the Tribulation before the Rapture in 2 Thes- 
salonians," BSac 134(1977) 107-13. 

^E.g., see Robert H. Gundry, The Church and the Tribulation (Grand Rapids: 
Zondervan, 1973) 122-28. For a recent discussion of the passage from pre-, mid-, and 
posttribulational perspectives see Gleason L. Archer, Paul D. Feinberg, Douglas J. 
Moo, and Richard D. Reiter, The Rapture: Pre-. Mid-, or Post-tribulational? (Grand 
Rapids: Zondervan, 1984) 126-27, 189-90, 228-29. 


scheme. Practically every author who attempts to refute the pretribu- 
lational view discusses in some detail Matthew 24 in an effort to find 
support for posttribulationism.^ 


As the Gospels make clear, the Olivet Discourse, contained in 
Matthew 24-25, occurred only days before the death and crucifixion 
of Christ. Opposition to Christ and efforts to kill him on the part of 
religious leaders of the day intensified as the time approached for the 
death and crucifixion of Christ. All of this troubled the disciples 
because it did not fit into their expectation that Jesus Christ was their 
Messiah and Savior, the Son of God, who would deliver them from 
the oppression of the Roman Empire. They were further troubled by 
Christ's own statement that he was to die by crucifixion. This had 
been implied in his comparison of his own death and resurrection to 
the experience of Jonah (Matt 12:38-41). Then he had explicitly 
predicted his death and resurrection three times as recorded in all 
three Gospels (Matt 16:21; 17:22-23; 19:18-19; Mark 8:31-33; 9:30- 
32; 10:32-34; Luke 9:22; 9:43-45; 18:31-34). These predictions did 
not harmonize with the disciples' expectation that Christ would deliver 
Israel from the oppression of Rome. 

The disciples were further disturbed by Christ's denunciation of 
the Pharisees (Matthew 23) when he pronounced seven woes upon 
them. He denounced them as hypocrites, as whitewashed tombs, and 
as vipers. He closed his denunciation with the reminder that their 
forefathers had killed the prophets God had sent them. Accordingly, 
because they rejected Christ, Jerusalem would also be left desolate. 
These prophecies did not fit in with the anticipation of a glorious 
kingdom on earth in which Christ would reign. 

It was in this context that the disciples reminded Christ of the 
beauty of their temple, the symbol of their religion and national 
solidarity. Here again they were dismayed when Christ announced 
"not one stone here will be left upon another; every one will be thrown 
down" (Matt 24:2). 

Things came to a head after Christ had crossed the brook Kidron 
with his disciples and had stopped on the western slope of the Mount 
of Olives. It was then that the inner circle of the twelve disciples 
(Peter, James, John, and Andrew, according to Mark 13:3) came to 

'E.g., see Gundry, The Church and the Tribulation, 135-39, 158; George E. Ladd, 
The Blessed Hope (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1956) 144-45; and Alexander Reese, The 
Approaching Advent of Christ (London: Marshall, Morgan, and Scott, 1932) 29, 208, 


Christ privately with three major questions (Matt 24:3). These ques- 
tions were (1) "when will this happen," (2) "what will be the sign of 
your coming," and (3) "(what will be) the sign ... of the end of the 
age"? The first question, referring to the destruction of the temple, is 
answered in Luke 21:20-24 by a prophecy which was fulfilled in 
the destruction of Jerusalem in a.d. 70. Matthew does not record 
Christ's answer to the first question but does record the answers 
to questions (2) and (3) which both deal with the second coming of 
Christ. At this time the disciples did not understand the difference 
between the first and second coming of Christ. What they were really 
questioning was, what were the signs of the approaching kingdom? 
Their questions were prompted by their attempt to harmonize in 
some way the OT prophecies of the Messiah's death and resurrection 
with the promises of his glorious reign and the deliverance of Israel. 

It is most significant that saints in the OT (including the writers 
of Scripture [1 Pet 1:10-12]) as well as the twelve disciples in the NT 
never understood clearly the difference between the first and second 
coming of Christ. It was only after Christ's ascension into heaven that 
the distinction was made clear. With the help of historical hindsight, 
today the difference between the first and second coming of Christ 
can be sorted out because in the first coming of Christ the prophecies 
relating to his birth, life on earth, miracles, death and resurrection 
were all literally fulfilled while the prophecies of his glorious kingdom 
reign still await future fulfillment. If major events like the first coming 
and second coming of Christ could be so mingled in the OT and even 
in the Gospels, it is not surprising that there should be confusion 
today between a pretribulational rapture and a second coming of 
Christ to set up his kingdom. 

However, in contrast to the universal confusion of the first and 
second coming of Christ prior to Christ's ascension, many students of 
prophecy today firmly believe that the rapture of the church will be 
pretribulational. They do this on much the same grounds that the 
first and second coming of Christ are separated today — that is, they 
distinguish the two events because they are so different in many 
characteristics, including the events which precede the event itself, 
and the events which follow. 

Taking all the facts available, it can be determined that the setting 
for the questions of the disciples was that they did not know how to 
harmonize events relating to the first and second coming of Christ. It 
is to this crucial question that Christ gave the answers recorded in 
Matthew 24-25. 


An examination of major commentaries on Matthew 24 demon- 
strates that there is disagreement as to what the passage really teaches. 


Conservative scholars who accept a literal second coming of Christ 
are usually united in their interpretation that the passage in general 
refers to the second coming of Christ. This is because the passage is 
very explicit. The events described will climax in Christ's coming as 
stated by Christ himself — "they will see the Son of Man coming on 
the clouds of the sky, with power and great glory" (Matt 24:30). 

The confusion arises in interpreting what Christ said about events 
leading up to the second coming. G. Campbell Morgan divides the 
Olivet Discourse into three divisions. He considers Matt 24:5-35 to be 
talking about Israel. He relates Matt 24:36-25:30 to the church "as the 
spiritual Israel of God." He interprets Matt 25:31-46 as a judgment 
that Christ pronounced on the nations."* He holds that Matt 24:6-22 
was fulfilled in the fall of Jerusalem, but in his exegesis he skips 
almost completely the problems of interpretation that exist in 
Matt 24:1-44. 

Robert Gundry illustrates the posttribulational interpretation of 
this passage. He directs attention away from the subject matter to the 
hypothetical question, "To whom is the passage directed?" He writes, 
"To what group of redeemed do the Jewish saints addressed by Jesus 
and represented by the Apostles belong, Israel or the church?"^ In his 
complicated answer to this problem, he needlessly misdirects attention. 
This point of view is adopted by other posttribulationists and mid- 
tribulationists. They also insert the hypothesis that the prophecies 
had to be fulfilled in the lifetime of the apostles — an erroneous 
approach since the second coming of Christ and the course of the 
entire preceding age is predicted. 

The disciples were both Jews and the initial members of the 
church, the body of Christ. The answers to their questions concerned 
anyone who was interested in the events of the end of the age, and 
they are not limited to the apostolic age. While the disciples obviously 
were interested in how this related to the Jews, as illustrated by their 
questions, the answer that Christ gave is largely non-Jewish. It 
involves prophecies which affect the whole world with the Olivet 
Discourse specifically concluding with the judgment of the Gentiles. 
The issue at hand is not to whom Christ's answer is addressed, but 
the question of the content of the prophecy itself. Gundry never even 
mentions the three questions that are being answered in this discourse 
of Christ. 

A typical amillennial interpretation is offered by R. C. H. Lenski. 
He holds that many of the prophecies of this passage, including the 
great tribulation, have already been fulfilled in connection with the 

■"G. Campbell Morgan, The Gospel According to Matthew (New York: Revell, 
1929) 284. 

'Gundry, The Church and the Tribulation, 129. 


destruction of Jerusalem and the events which preceded it. In general 
he finds that the prophecies are largely fulfilled already historically, 
but that they obviously lead up to the second coming of Christ. He 
does not consider the question as to whether the subject of the rapture 
is being presented. Everything is related to the second coming of 
Christ as far as the consummation is concerned.^ 

The great variety of opinions on Matthew 24 indicate that this 
passage is difficult to interpret. The present discussion will focus on 
the contribution of Matt 24:31 and Matt 24:37-42 toward understand- 
ing the time relationship between the rapture and the tribulation. 


Immediately following predictions of catastrophic interference 
with the sun, moon, and stars, Christ states. 

At that time the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and all 
nations of the earth will mourn. They will see the Son of Man coming 
on the clouds of the sky with power and great glory. And He will send 
His angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather His elect from 
the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other [Matt 24:30- 

Among conservative interpreters of Scripture, there is general 
agreement that this prophecy concerns a gathering of the elect in 
connection with the second coming of Christ. Some premillenarians 
limit the "elect" to the Jewish people because Christ is addressing the 
apostles in this passage. Others view the "elect" as including all the 
saved, whether OT or NT saints. Premillenarians, whether pretribula- 
tional or posttribulational, recognize that there will be a gathering of 
all the saints at the time of the second coming of Christ in order that 
they may all participate in the millennial kingdom. Amillenarians 
would agree with this, but they would add the resurrection of the 
wicked as indicated in Rev 20:11-15. Postmillenarians would have 
essentially the same view as the amillenarians. 

The major question raised by premillenarians, whether pretribu- 
lationists or posttribulationists, is whether this event includes the 
rapture of the church. Even if the church is raptured earlier in the 
sequence of events, it nevertheless would be included in this gathering. 

The two essentials of the rapture of the church are resurrection 
of the dead in Christ and translation of living Christians, as brought 
out clearly in central passages such as 1 Thess 4:13-18 and 1 Cor 15:51- 
58. The prophecy in Matthew, however, says nothing of either resurrec- 
tion or translation and refers only to the gathering of the elect. It may 

*R. C. H. Lenski, The Interpretation of St. Matthew's Gospel (Minneapolis: 
Augsburg, 1943) 956. 


be assumed that the elect so gathered have been either translated or 
resurrected, but it is not indicated when this occurs. Accordingly the 
passage cannot properly be used by either the pretribulationists or the 
posttribulationists as positive proof of their position, although the 
silence relative to resurrection and translation here would be in favor 
of the pretribulational position. 

Most of the attention between pretribulational and posttribula- 
tional arguments, however, has centered on Matt 24:36-42. Here the 
time factor is specifically discussed. Christ states, "No one knows 
about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, 
but only the Father" (Matt 24:36). This presents a problem for all 
eschatological views in that Christ states that he does not know the 
day or the hour, but that only the Father knows. Christ is emphasizing 
that the time has not been revealed. If Christ did not know it, neither 
can anyone else. 

In the interpretation of end time prophecy, many premillenarians 
hold that the last seven years referred to in Dan 9:27 will culminate in 
the second coming of Christ. Even if prophetic years of 360 days are 
used, it is not clear what day or hour will actually signal the second 
coming of Christ.^ The final period of great tribulation leading up to 
the second coming of Christ is defined as one-half of the last seven 
years in Dan 9:27. In Dan'7:25 and 12:7 the expression "a time, times 
and half a time" is usually interpreted as three and one-half years. 
The same expression occurs in Rev 12:14. In Rev 13:5 the period is 
referred to as forty-two months. In Dan 12:11-12, the period is 
described as 1290 and 1335 days. Here the forty-two month period is 
extended thirty and seventy-five days to uncertain termini. While all 
of these should be interpreted as literal time periods, they do not 
reveal the day or the hour of Christ's return. 

Expanding on the uncertainty of the day and the hour, Christ 
declares it will be like the days of Noah (Matt 24:37). While Noah 
was building the ark, it was obvious that the flood would not come 
until he had completed the project. Once the ark was completed the 
situation changed radically. As observers saw the animals going into 
the ark by two in a manner contrary to nature, it was obvious that 
this was a sign that something was about to happen. But the day or 
the hour still was not clear. Then as they observed Noah's family 
enter the ark and the door shutting, they still could not know the day 
or the hour, but it was obvious that the flood could come at any time. 

For dispensational discussions of the seventy-weeks prophecy see Paul D. Feinberg, 
"An Exegetical and Theological Study of Daniel 9:24-27," Tradition and Testament: 
Essays in Honor of Charles Lee Feinberg (ed. John S. Feinberg and Paul D. Feinberg; 
Chicago: Moody, 1981) 189-220; and Harold W. Hoehner, Chronological Aspects of 
the Life of Christ (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1977) 1 15-40. 


Because of the uncertainty of the time of the flood and their 
skepticism as to whether the flood was even going to occur, Christ 
describes them as continuing in the normal course of life "eating and 
drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered 
the ark" (Matt 24:38). Christ goes on to say that when the flood came 
it "took them all away" (Matt 24:39). 

Using this OT illustration, Christ compares it to the events which 
will occur at the second coming of Christ. Like the flood, the second 
coming will be preceded by specific signs which indicate the approach 
but not the day or the hour of the coming of the Lord. Like the flood, 
it will be a time of judgment. This is summarized in Matt 24:40-41, 
"Two men will be in the field; one will be taken and the other left. 
Two women will be grinding with a hand mill; one will be taken and 
the other left." 

The similarity of this to the rapture of the church has caused 
many expositors, especially posttribulationists, to liken this to what 
will take place at the time of the second coming. Alexander Reese, 
whose major work is The Approaching Advent of Christ, cites these 
verses as proof that the rapture occurs in connection with the second 
coming of Christ. His book, on which he spent twenty-five years, has 
been the regularly-cited classic work on posttribulationism ever since 
it was published. There is a major problem, however, with this 

In the illustration of the flood which Christ himself used, the one 
who is taken is drowned whereas those who are left, that is, Noah's 
family, are safe in the ark. To view the one taken as the righteous one 
and the one left as the judged one is to reverse the illustration 

Reese, however, believes he has solved this problem and makes 
this a major argument for his posttribulational position. He notes 
that there are two different Greek words used for "taken." In Matt 
24:39 the verb used is fipev from ai'pco. In vv 40-41 the verb Ttapa- 
X,a|xPdv8Tai from 7rapa?ia|iPdvto is used. Reese claims that Ttapa- 
XaixPdvo) is used in Scripture only in a friendly sense. In taking this 
position, he opposes Darby: 

Darby, in one of the few instances where he allowed views to influence 
(and mar) his admirable literal translation, translated paralambano in 
Luke xvii:34-5 by seize. The use of this word in the NT is absolutely 
opposed to this; it is a good word; a word used exclusively in the sense 
of 'take away with,' or 'receive,' or 'take home.'^ 

Reese and others have pointed out that 7iapaX,a|iPdv(o is used of the 
rapture in John 14:3. This is an illustration, however, that even a 

*Reese, Approaching Advent, 215. 


careful scholar may make mistakes. Reese evidently failed to check 
John 19:16 ("the soldiers took charge of [7rape?LaPov] Jesus"), where 
"took charge of" is hardly a reference to a friendly taking. As a 
matter of fact, it refers to taking Christ to the judgment of the cross. 

Gundry is aware of this problem and attempts to settle the matter 
dogmatically by stating. 

But granting that the context indicates judgment, we are not forced to 
conclude that 'one will be taken' in judgment and 'one will be left' in 
safety. The reverse may just as easily be understood: 'one will be taken' 
in rapture and 'one will be left' for judgment.'' 

However, the context completely contradicts Reese and Gundry. The 
context here is more determinative than the fact that the word napa- 
XaiiPdvo) is used for the rapture in John 14:3 by a different author. 

Interestingly, after additional study, Gundry changed his mind. 
In his later work (Matthew) he reversed his opinion. He states, "But 
Matthew's parallelistic insertion of airen in v. 39, where judgment is 
in view, makes the taking judgmental in his gospel. Hence, being left 
means being spared from instead of exposed to judgment. "'° In other 
words, he concedes what he formerly refuted and agrees with the 
pretribulational interpretation of this passage. 

If there is any doubt as to the interpretation here, it should be 
settled by a parallel reference in Luke 17 where Christ, predicting the 
same event in the same context states, "I tell you, on that night, two 
people will be in one bed; one will be taken and the other left. Two 
will be grinding grain together; one will be taken and the other left" 
(Luke 17:34-35). Gundry also cites this passage" but significantly 
stops before 37, which would have made the matter clear. Here the 
disciples asked the question, "Where, Lord?" Christ replied, "Where 
there is a dead body, there the vultures will gather." It is clear that the 
ones taken are put to death. This actually is a preliminary stage of the 
judgment that is later detailed in Matt 25:31-46 where the unsaved 
Gentiles are destroyed. 


Posttribulationists and midtribulationists as \yell have misread 
the immediate context of Matt 24:40-41 and have reached an un- 
warranted conclusion that there is a rapture in this passage. Instead, 
the passage teaches that the righteous will be left as Noah and his 
family were left alive in the ark, whereas all others will be taken away 

'Gundry, The Church and the Tribulation, 138. 

'"Robert H. Gundry, Matthew: A Commentary on His Literary and Theological 
Art (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1982) 494. 

"Gundry, The Church and the Tribulation, 137. 


in judgment. The argument for posttribulationism based upon this 
text, which even posttribulationists admit is the only passage approxi- 
mating a direct statement of a posttribulation rapture, collapses upon 
careful analysis. Even Gundry has reversed his former view of this 

The fact that those who are left, are left alive to enter the millen- 
nial kingdom because they are saved is further confirmed by Christ in 
Matt 25:31-46 where the sheep are ushered into the kingdom and the 
goats are cast into everlasting fire. This indicates the separation of the 
saved from the unsaved at the time of the second coming. There is no 
rapture at the second coming because those who survive the period 
after this purging judgment of God enter the millennium in their 
natural bodies so that they can fulfill the Scriptures that describe 
them as living natural lives, bearing children, living, dying, and even 
sinning. All of these factors would be impossible if every saved person 
were raptured at the time of the second coming. 

A careful study of the passage relating to the second coming of 
Christ in Matthew 24, therefore, gives no ground for a posttribula- 
tional rapture. In fact it confirms the concept that those who are 
caught up at the rapture are caught up to heaven to the Father's 
house as Christ promised in John 14. This will occur at a time 
preceding the events of Matthew 24-25 which must be fulfilled prior 
to the second coming of Christ. The rapture therefore is an imminent 
event which today may be expected momentarily. 

Grace Theological Journal 6.2 (1985) 267-273 


James L. Boyer 

The letters to the seven churches in Revelation 2-3 outline the 
course of Church History from the first advent of Christ to his second 
advent. This interpretation does not compromise the doctrine of 
imminence since the prophecy is implicit and thus not discernible 
until its fulfillment has been accomplished. Some have failed to see 
the correspondence between the characteristics of the seven churches 
and the history of the church because they have failed to recognize 
that the seven churches are true churches (kvxvia, 'lampstands '). 


TRADITIONALLY, dispcnsational premillenialists often have seen in 
the letters to the seven churches in Revelation 2-3 three interpre- 
tations which, taken together, comprise the meaning of the passage. 
The three interpretations may be called the historical interpretation, 
the typical or representative interpretation, and the prophetic interpre- 

The historical interpretation understands the seven churches to 
be seven actual historical churches in provincial Asia in the first 
century. Some of them are mentioned elsewhere in Scripture (Ephesus 
and Laodicea) while others are known from church history. There 
seems to be almost total agreement on this interpretation; the only 
view known to the present writer that would deny it holds that the 
seven churches are seven Jewish congregations in the future Tribula- 
tion period.' 

The usual interpretation sees these churches as seven types of 
churches in any age. That is, these churches exhibit characteristics 
which may be found in any church of any time or place. This 
interpretation is also nearly universally held by all dispcnsational 

'E. W. Bullinger, The Apocalypse: The Day of the Lord (ird ed.. rev.; London: 
Eyre & Spottiswoode, 1935) 68-7 L 


premillenialists and does not in any sense replace or contradict the 
historical interpretation. 

Third is the prophetic interpretation which additionally sees a 
prophetic or predictive element in these seven letters. Each church in 
Revelation 2-3 exhibits qualities and conditions which become pre- 
dominant in a certain period of church history from the first advent 
of Christ to his second advent.^ Thus, just as there are types of 
churches, there are types of church periods.^ 

These three interpretations are not antithetical; not many inter- 
preters teach the historical only, or typical only, or prophetic only. 
The question addressed here is whether the prophetic interpretation is 
part of the meaning of Revelation 2-3. This has been denied by some 


It may be desirable at the outset to dismiss a few minor arguments 
to clear the way for the more important considerations. I believe that 
some well-meaning but over-zealous expounders of the prophetic view 
have claimed too much or have sought to pile up evidence by using 
weak arguments. This has actually hurt the credibility of the prophetic 
interpretation more than it has helped because it gives opponents 
something to refute, thus making the whole position look weak. 

One such argument is that the book of Revelation is a prophetic 
book; hence it would be appropriate to find a prophetic aspect here.^ 
This of course is true, as everyone will agree. But it proves nothing. 

It might be claimed that since the prophecies of the tribulation 
period come after chaps. 2 and 3 (cf. 4:1, "after this"), then chaps. 2 

"^This approach is commonly taken in dispensational commentaries; see e.g., 
Herman A. Hoyt, The Revelation of the Lord Jesus Christ (Winona Lake, IN: BMH, 
1966) 17, 25-29, and John F. Walvoord, The Revelation of Jesus Christ (Chicago: 
Moody, 1966) 52, who holds the view cautiously. See also Menno J. Brunk, "The 
Seven Churches in Revelation 2-3." BSac 126 (1969) 240-46, and Gary G. Cohen, 
Understanding Revelation (Collingswood, NJ: Christian Beacon, 1968) 44-65, who 
presents a more impressive argument. Of course, a prophetic view is held by non- 
dispensationalists as well (e.g., J. P. Lange, Commentary on the Holy Scriptures- 
Revelation [reprint; Grand Rapids: Zondervan, n.d.] 139). See also the survey of R. C. 
Trench, Commentary on the Epistles to the Seven Churches in Asia (6th ed., rev.; 
reprint; Minneapolis: Klock and Klock, 1978) 237-45. 

^Hoyt, Revelation, 28; and Walvoord, Revelation, 52. 

''E.g., Robert L. Thomas, "The Chronological Interpretation of Revelation 2-3," 
BSac 124 (1967) 321-31. George Ladd's equation of dispensationalism with the proph- 
etic view is thus an overgeneralization. See Ladd's A Commentary on the Revelation of 
John (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1972) 12. 

'E.g., Brunk, "The Seven Churches," 244; and Cohen, Understanding Revela- 
tion, 63. 

boyer: the seven letters of revelation 2-7 269 

and 3 must cover the church age — otherwise there would be a gap in 
the succession of events. But again this proves nothing; "after this" 
would be just as true even if there were a gap, and the occurrence of a 
gap is certainly not unusual in prophetic literature. 

I personally do not put great significance in the argument based 
upon the etymologies of the names of the seven churches^ for two 
reasons. First, the proposed etymologies are very uncertain and hypo- 
thetical. Second, the argument is based on a very questionable method 
of exegesis. While it is true that names may have meanings (as Miller 
and Smith and Fisher have in English) and sometimes were given 
with deliberate reference to that meaning (as Benjamin and Joshua- 
Jesus in Scripture), this was not normally the case. The ministry of 
Paul is not explained by studying the etymology of his name. 


One of the objections given against the prophetic view is that the 
passage does not explicitly claim to be prophetic.^ It is readily admit- 
ted that this is true. Nowhere in Revelation 2-3 does it say that these 
letters are dealing with seven long periods of time which must tran- 
spire before the second advent. Indeed if it had said that, it would 
have effectively denied the plain teaching of Scripture elsewhere that 
the Lord's coming is imminent, to be constantly expected and watched 

But the fact that it is not explicitly prophetic does not at all 
mean that it is not prophetic. Bible prophecy elsewhere is often 
implicit rather than explicit. It is the character of Bible prophecy to 
unfold as it is fulfilled. OT messianic prophecy is an example. The 
OT did not say explicitly that there would be two comings separated 
by a long period of time. That time element was the specific aspect 
which the prophets themselves could not understand (1 Pet 1:11). Nor 
did OT prophecy make it clear that the offer of the Kingdom would 
be rejected and postponed to that later coming. But as the fulfillment 
unfolded, the two comings (which were implicit in the OT prophecy) 
could be understood (Luke 24:25-27). 

Here is also the answer to that most serious of all objections to 
the prophetic understanding of Revelation 2-3, namely, that it denies 
the doctrine of imminence.^ It indeed would, if it stated explicitly that 
there would be a period of at least two thousand years before the 
second advent, or even if it had stated explicitly that there would be 

*E.g., Cohen, Understanding Revelation, 62-63; and H. A. Ironside, Lectures on 
the Book of Revelation (Neptune, NJ: Loizeaux, 1920) 37-38. 
^Thomas, "Chronological Interpretation," 329-30. 
"ibid., 328-29. 


"seven periods of church history." But the impHcit prophecy could 
not be understood until it was made clear by fulfillment, and by that 
time it could no longer be said, "My Lord delays His coming" 
(Matt 24:48). So the charge that the prophetic view destroys the doc- 
trine of imminence is answered. 

A significant argument for the prophetic view may be seen in the 
number of churches listed in these chapters. Although the symbolism 
of numbers has been grossly abused by many in their treatment of the 
book of Revelation, few will deny that in this book the number seven 
occupies a place of importance and must be recognized as significant. 
And most would see that significance as representing completeness, 
fullness, the "whole" of something.^ Applying this symbolic signifi- 
cance to the seven churches of Revelation points to this sevenfold 
picture as presenting in some way the whole of the church. Now if the 
meaning is limited to the historical view, the question may be asked 
why only these seven churches were addressed. Certainly they were 
not the complete list of historical churches of John's day, not even all 
the churches of Asia; Colosse is right in the midst of them (in fact, 
within sight of one of them). Nor can importance be the deciding 
factor, as Colosse again shows. 

One might add the typical interpretation to the picture and say 
that the seven represent the seven types of churches. But again one 
faces the question, why these seven? Certainly these seven are not the 
only seven types of churches. The NT itself furnishes many examples 
of church types not included in these seven, such as the Galatian and 
the Corinthian types. When one tries to label every church with which 
he is acquainted by assigning it to one of these seven, he has difficulty. 
These seven cannot represent a total list of church types. 

However, when the prophetic view of the seven churches is 
recognized, the number seven becomes meaningful. The seven do not 
represent all churches or all types of churches but all the periods in 
the progressive historical development of the church in this age. 


What is it that prompts expositors to see implicit prophecy in 
these letters? It is the remarkable correspondence in fact with the 
course of history and the realization that the characteristics of these 
seven churches have appeared in succession in the historical develop- 
ments of the church age. It is not within the purpose of this paper to 

'For a careful study of numbers in the Bible and a cautious approval of the 
symbolic significance of the number seven, see John J. Davis, Biblical Numerology 
(Grand Rapids: Baker, 1968) 115-19. 

boyer: the seven letters of revelation 2-7 271 

expound or to defend this claim; it has been presented in the literature 
of those who hold it.'° Perhaps sufficient for the present purpose is 
the observation that this is especially clear of the first two and the last 
two periods, the ones with which modern Christians are most familiar. 
The apostolic age, which began with the zeal of "first love," showed a 
diminishing of that ardor (as in the letter to the church in Ephesus). 
The second clearly discernible period was one of persecution and 
martyrdom, when the Roman Empire tried to destroy the Christian 
faith (as in the letter to the church in Smyrna). The "open door" of 
the letter to the church in Philadelphia corresponds closely with the 
evangelistic and missionary movements of the nineteenth century. 
And the lukewarmness and materialistic self-sufficiency of the church 
in Laodicea describes well the present situation. It should be remem- 
bered that all types of churches are present in all periods, but one 
type is predominant and characterizes each period. 

But it is at this point that opponents of this view voice one of 
their major objections. They claim that there is no such correspon- 
dence in fact between the letters and church history. They add that 
the view is highly subjective with wide difference of opinion between 
proponents." They label the view as simply another "continuous- 
historical" interpretation — an approach to Revelation which views 
the book as a whole to be "a symbolic presentation of the entire 
course of the history of the church from the close of the first century 
to the end of time." '^ 

First, to label the prophetic view as another continuous-historical 
interpretation demonstrates a serious misunderstanding of the proph- 
etic view. The continuous-historical method of interpreting the book 
of Revelation attempts to see fulfillment of specific passages in 
Revelation in specific events of history, such as the conversion of the 
Roman Empire, the invasion of the Turks, or the First World War. 
The prophetic view propounded here does absolutely none of this. It 
is in no sense a prediction of events or persons or organizations of 
which it could be said, "This is the fulfillment of that." Rather it is a 
recognition that the Lord foreknew and foretold the trends and move- 
ments throughout the church age. These are not immediately and 
definitely discernible but may be discerned by hindsight. 

E.g., Cohen, Understanding Revelation, 48-49; and J. A. Seiss, The Apocalypse 
(London: Marshall, Morgan, and Scott, n.d.) 76-86. 

"E.g., Thomas, "Chronological Interpretation," 325-27, and Trench, Epistles to 
the Seven Churches, 247-50. 

'^Merrill C. Tenney, Interpreting Revelation (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1957) 137. 
See also Tenny's entire discussion of this view (137-39). 


The claim that the prophetic view is subjective and differs widely 
from person to person'^ is also based on the same misunderstanding. 
When the many continuous-historical writers are included, it is of 
course true that there are wide divergencies. Such subjectivity is a 
legitimate argument against that interpretation. But those who actually 
hold the prophetic view of these passages repudiate the spiritualizing 
and allegorizing of that method, holding instead to a literal or natural 
interpretation, and there is remarkable agreement in the identification 
of the seven periods. 

Second, it is claimed that the view of church history used by the 
advocates of the prophetic view is faulty, taking into consideration 
only "Western Christianity," hence the correspondence in fact is not 
true. The answer to this objection is very simple, but very important 
and often neglected even by the proponents of the view. 

Such a claim involves a faulty understanding of the nature of the 
churches in Revelation 2-3. The seven periods of church history are 
wrongly conceived as embracing all churches, all Christendom. The 
churches of Revelation 2-3 are symbolized as "candle-sticks" (KJV) 
or "lampstands" {NASV, NIV). The Greek word used is ^u^via and 
refers to the pedestal or stand upon which the lamp was placed or 
hung; the lamp itself is ^u^voc; or 'ka\indc,.^'^ The churches are not 
lamps or the light; they are the holders of the lamps. They hold up 
the light of the gospel so it may be seen by the world. When Revelation 
describes these churches as "light-holders," it is labeling them as 
holders of the true gospel. They represent the place where men may 
find the gospel. They are true churches. In Rev 2:5 the Lord threatens 
to remove their lampstand out of its place if they do not repent. In 
other words they will cease to be light-holders; they will cease to be 
true churches. Therefore, those churches represented in Revelation 2-3 
are not false, apostate, or heretical — otherwise, they would not be 
lampstands. Western Christianity has been the major center for world 
evangelism and thus fits the description here. 

The implications of this insight are crucial. It cancels the objection 
that the prophetic view fails to take into account the whole of church 
history. Revelation 2-3 provides a picture of trends and movements 
within true churches, not within Christendom. All through the years 
there have always been churches where the light of the gospel was 
being held up to view, even in the darkest days of the age. Such 
churches may have reflected some of the spirit of their false con- 
temporaries, but they did not lose their light. Dead and apostate 
"churches" are not the addressees of these letters. 

''E.g., Thomas, "Chronological Interpretation," 326. 
"BAGD, 483. 

boyer: the seven letters of revelation 2-7 273 


This insight also forces a reevaluation of the whole approach to 
understanding these letters. For example, the Laodicean church is not 
the theologically liberal church down the street, nor the apostate 
church of the end times. It is the Bible-believing evangelical church 
which possesses and upholds the light of the gospel, but which is 
conforming to the values of the world and refusing to get overly 
involved in the Lord's work. It is materially rich and increased with 
goods, needing nothing, but it is unaware that it is spiritually wretched 
and poor and miserable and blind and naked (3:17). It is lukewarm — 
not cold and unresponsive to the things of God, but not hot and "on 
fire" for the Lord who bought it. Rather it is somewhere in between. 
It is trying to enjoy the good things and to avoid the unpleasant 
things of both worlds. 

Is this the case with us and with the people in our churches? 
Then ours is a Laodicean church. And to the degree that Laodicea 
characterizes the churches — the true gospel churches — of our time, 
may we hear what the Spirit says to the churches: "As many as I love, 
I rebuke and chasten; be zealous, therefore, and repent" (Rev 3:19). 

Grace TheologicalJournal 6.2(\9%5) 275-287 




David L. Turner 

Heated polemical debates over eschatology among evangelicals 
are deplorable. Covenant theologians are not necessarily "allegorizers, " 
and neither are dispensationalists necessarily "hyperliteralists. " The 
NT use of the OT and the complex nature of the present and future 
aspects of God's kingdom are crucial topics for future discussion. 
Such future discussion should focus upon the exegesis of key OT and 
NT texts, not upon vague or abstract hermeneutical issues. 


RESEARCH in the current evangelical literature dealing with escha- 
tology reveals about forty recurring issues in the argumentation. 
Logic, exegesis, and a brotherly spirit are sometimes lacking in this 
debate, and often the focus is on peripheral rather than central issues. 
This study has isolated three issues which are believed to be 
central. These issues are (1) the practice (not theory) of literal herme- 
neutics, (2) the NT use of the OT, and (3) the present and future 
aspects of the kingdom. And beneath all three lies an even more basic 
one: the continuity of Scripture in progressive revelation. This study 
is offered in order to focus further debate upon the central issues and 
to encourage a courteous spirit among evangelicals who enter the 


Valid and Invalid Approaches 

Writers of various eschatological stripes have commonly expressed 
the view that differences in eschatological systems arise "primarily out 
of the distinctive method employed by each in the interpretation of 


Scripture."' Though there is a degree of truth in such a statement, it 
is simpHstic. One's consistency in taking bibhcal language Uterally 
will have an obvious influence upon one's theology, but the reverse is 
also true — one's theology will have an obvious influence upon his 
hermeneutics. It is mistaken to speak of either a "literal" or a "spiri- 
tualizing" hermeneutic as a purely inductive, overall approach to 
Scripture. To speak in such generalities obscures the real issue: the 
interpretation of specific biblical passages. Any study of Scripture 
involves a certain degree of exegetical, theological, and hermeneutical 
preunderstanding. Even the cultural and historical circumstances of 
the interpreter tend to sway his understanding of Scripture, as Gundry 
has appropriately warned: "We as Christian exegetes and theologians 
are susceptible to influences from the moods and conditions of our 
times, and especially so in our eschatologies." 

All of this is not to say that hermeneutics is unimportant, or that 
a consistent literal hermeneutic is unattainable. Indeed, such a herme- 
neutic is essential in handling the whole Bible, including poetry, pro- 
phecy, and figurative language. Properly used, the result of a literal 
hermentic is not "wooden letterism," but sensitivity to figures of 
speech.^ However, in the exegesis of specific biblical passages, the 
exegete must realize that his use of a literal hermeneutic is precon- 
ditioned by his theological presuppositions. The same holds true for 
the practicioner of a "spiritualizing" hermeneutic. It is common for 
dispensationalists to accuse nondispensationalists of spiritualizing or 
allegorizing the Bible, especially the OT, and for covenant theologians 
to charge dispensationalists with hyperliteralism. As long as the debate 
is carried on in such vague generalities there will be no progress 
whatsoever. It is time to heed the advice of Bahnsen: 

The charge of subjective spiritualization or hyperliteralism against any 
of the three eschatological positions cannot be settled in general; rather, 

'This example comes from the postmillennialist Loraine Boettner, "Christian Hope 
and a Millennium," Christianity Today 2:25 (Sept 29, 1958) 13. Similar statements 
implying the absolute precedence of hermeneutics to theology may be found in such 
dispensationalists as Charles C. Ryrie, Dispensationalism Today (Chicago: Moody, 
1965) 86 and J. Dwight Pentecost, Things to Come (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1958) 1 . 
The amillennialist Floyd Hamilton expressed the same view in The Basis of Mil- 
lennial Faith (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1942) 38. 

^Stanley Gundry, "Hermeneutics or Zeitgeist as the Determining Factor in the 
History of Eschatologies?," JETS 20 (1977) 55. See also J. I. Packer's perceptive 
discussion of the hermeneutical circle, "Hermeneutics and Biblical Authority," The- 
melios I (1975)3-12. 

'See any textbook of biblical hermeneutics for support of this statement. Alva J. 
McClain {The Greatness of the Kingdom [Chicago: Moody, 1968] 139) did not exag- 
gerate when he said, "This method, as its adherents have explained times without 
number, leaves room for all the devices and nuances of language, including the use of 
figure, metaphor, simile, symbol, and even allegory." 

turner: the continuity of scripture and eschatology 277 

the opponents must get down to hand-to-hand exegetical combat on 
particular passages and phrases/ 

The Question of Consistency 

In their attempt to discover the continuity of Scripture dispensa- 
tionalists have consistently attempted to utilize a literal hermeneutic.^ 
In their view this is the only means whereby the continuity of Scripture 
may be discovered. Of course, as nondispensationalists have been 
quick to point out, dispensationalists are not always consistent in their 
literal approach/ Nevertheless, dispensationalism avows a consistent 
literal hermeneutic which is applied to all of Scripture, regardless of 
whether the Scripture being studied is prophetic, poetic, narrative, or 
didactic in nature. Anything less is branded as a dual hermeneutic 
and even as allegorizing. 

Another perspective on the continuity of Scripture is exemplified 
by covenant theologians, whether historic premillennialists, postmil- 
lennialists, or amillennialists. In this approach the emphasis is upon 
the NT use of the OT as the inspired model of hermeneutics.* Herme- 
neutical consistency comes from imitation of the NT use of the OT, 
not from a consistently literal hermeneutic. It must be emphasized 
that the approach is not allegorical. Hamilton, an amillennialist, said 

the literal interpretation of the prophecy is to be accepted unless 
(a) the passages contain obviously figurative language, or (b) unless 
the New Testament gives authority for interpreting them in other than 
a literal sense, or (c) unless a literal interpretation would produce a 
contradiction with truths, principles, or factual statements contained in 
non-symbolic books of the New Testament.' 

"Greg Bahnsen, "The Prima Facie Acceptability of Postmillennialism," yourwo/ o/" 
Christian Reconstruction 3 (1976) 57. In view of Bahnsen's advice the present study 
seeks to identify crucial exegetical issues and encourage their study. 

^Examples could be multiplied, but see, e.g., Herman Hoyt, "Dispensational Pre- 
millennialism," in Ttie Meaning of t lie Millennium: Four Views, ed. Robert G. Clouse 
(Downers Grove: InterVarsity, 1977)66-67. 

^Here may be noted Anthony Hoekema's "An Amillennial J^esponse" to Herman 
Hoyt in The Meaning of the Millennium. Hoekema believes he has found six examples 
of nonliteral interpretation in Hoyt. He goes on to speak correctly of the "gross 
oversimplification" that the basic issue in eschatological debates is over literal versus 
nonliteral hermeneutics (105-7). Actually, Hoekema's six examples relate to exegetical 
conclusions, not hermeneutical method. 

'E.g., see Pentecost, Things to Come, 3-4. 

*E.g., see Hoekema, "An Amillennial Response," 107-8; Clarence B. Bass, Back- 
grounds to Dispensationalism (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1960) 151-53; and P. E. Hughes, 
Interpreting Prophecy (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1976)9-10. 

'Floyd Hamilton, The Basis of Millennial Faith, 53-54. 


In response to (a) it should be recognized that a Hteral hermeneutic 
should not be abandoned when figurative language is encountered. 
Indeed, sensitivity to historical, grammatical, and cultural matters is 
the only way to arrive at the meaning intended by the figure. Hamil- 
ton's latter two points get to the heart of the matter — amillennialists 
believe that the continuity between the OT and NT is sacrificed if 
prophecy is interpreted literally. 

This debate over biblical continuity and hermeneutical consis- 
tency may be conveniently illustrated by the dialogue found in The 
Meaning of the Millennium. Here Ladd, Hoekema, and Boettner 
converge against Hoyt on the matter of hermeneutics.'" From Ladd's 
perspective, Hoyt is too literal in his interpretation of NT passages 
dealing with the kingdom because of his literal view of OT prophecy. 
Boettner and Hoekema agree with Ladd here, but then charge Ladd 
with being too literal in his view of Revelation 20. Radmacher's analy- 
sis is correct: "the major criticism that Hoekema and Boettner use on 
Ladd's interpretation of Revelation 20 is the criticism that Ladd uses 
on Hoyt and dispensational premillennialists."" Ladd is caught in the 
middle — his hermeneutic is not literal enough to satisfy Hoyt, but 
neither is it "spiritualized" enough to please Hoekema and Boettner! 


It would appear that vague generalities about theoretical herme- 
neutics accomplish very little. The cavalier dismissal of eschatological 
systems on the sole ground of hermeneutical theory serves only to 
obscure the more pertinent issues. Advocates of a "dual hermeneutic" 
cannot be dismissed with the charge of "allegorizing" and neither can 
dispensationalists be shouted down with the rebuke of being "hyper- 
literalists." However, hermeneutical conclusions on specific issues may 
be viewed as being inconsistent with one's professed hermeneutical 
method. When there is a discrepancy between the two, both dispensa- 
tionalists and covenant theologians should take heed. 

The main burden of these thoughts on the hermeneutical question 
is that any profitable debate must focus upon concrete issues, such as 
the NT use of the OT and the nature of progressive revelation. Here 
specific passages may be exegeted and profitably debated. 

^'^ Meaning of the Millennium, 47, 54, 94-95, 107. 

"Earl D. Radmacher, "Differences on the Millennium," Christianity Today 22:14 
(Apr 7, 1978) 46. Yet Radmacher elsewhere may excessively rely on a literal herme- 
neutic as the panacea for today's eschatological difficulties. See his "The Current 
Status of Dispensationalism and its Eschatology" in Perspectives on Evangelical The- 
ology, ed. K. S. Kantzer and S. N. Gundry (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1979) 163-76. 

turner: the continuity of scripture and eschatology 279 


Two Basic Approaches 

Those who hold to some form of covenant theology (whether 
premillennial, postmillennial, or amillennial) generally emphasize the 
unity of the Bible by stressing the NT's supposed reinterpretation of 
the OT. Ladd was probably the most prominent premillennial advo- 
cate of this position. He echoed Augustine's famous words, "Novum 
testamentum in vetere latet; vetus testamentum in novo patet" and 
then added that 

the Old Testament must be interpreted by the New Testament. In 
principle it is quite possible that the prophecies addressed originally to 
literal Israel describing physical blessings have their fulfillment exclu- 
sively in the spiritual blessings enjoyed by the Church. It is also possible 
that the Old Testament expectation of a kingdom on earth could be 
reinterpreted by the New Testament altogether of blessings in the spiri- 
tual realm. Therefore our question must be whether the exegesis of the 
New Testament requires the inclusion of millennial doctrine.'^ 

Here one may note that Ladd agrees with amillennialists on herme- 
neutical principle but goes on to disagree with them on the exegesis of 
specific NT passages (mainly Revelation 20, though 1 Cor 15:21-28 
and Romans 1 1 are also involved). In another place Ladd stated 
emphatically that "a millennial doctrine cannot be based on Old 
Testament prophecies but should be based on the New Testament 

At exactly this point dispensationalists part company with cove- 
nant theologians. It is their contention that the NT supplies no "re- 
interpretation" of OT prophecy which would cancel the OT promises 
to Israel of a future historical kingdom. In their view the NT use of 
the OT does not radically modify the OT promises to Israel. Hoyt 
argues that "in passage after passage Ladd insists that the New Tes- 
tament is interpreting the Old when the New Testament is simply 
applying a principle found in the Old Testament.""* Walvoord views 

'^George E. Ladd, "Revelation 20 and the Millennium," RevExp 57 (1960) 167. 
For similar statements see Crucial Questions about the Kingdom of God (Grand 
Rapids: Eerdmans, 1952) 136-42; The Presence of the Future (Grand Rapids: Eerd- 
mans, 1974) 199, 204-5, 227-28; and The Last Things (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 

Ladd, Meaning of the Millennium, 32. 

'"Hoyt, Meaning of the Millennium, 42-43. 


Ladd's reinterpretation approach as tantamount to a contradiction 
and cancellation of the OT promises. 

The issue ... is not progressive revelation versus nonprogressive reve- 
lation, but rather in progressive revelation there is no contradiction or 
correction of what was commonly assumed to be the main tenor of OT 
revelation. Accordingly, the issue is whether the Old Testament teaches 
a literal fulfillment of specific promises for Israel and whether the New 

Similarly Feinberg stresses that though the NT uses the OT in a 
number of ways it does not empty the OT of its valid predictive 

Relative Priority of Old Testament or New Testament 

As the two approaches meet head on, it is immediately noted 
that a crucial issue concerns the priority assigned to the OT or NT in 
the exegetical method. Thus the whole issue of the nature of progres- 
sive revelation lies just below the surface of the debate. Ladd contrasts 
the two approaches in this manner: "Dispensationalism forms its 
eschatology by a literal interpretation of the Old Testament and then 
fits the New Testament into it. A nondispensational eschatology forms 
its theology from the explicit teaching of the New Testament."'^ Hoyt 
denies Ladd's description of the issues and offers his own instead: 
"The dispensationalist interprets the New Testament in the light of 
the Old, whereas the nondispensationalist, it seems, comes to the New 
Testament with a system of interpretation which is not derived from 
the Old Testament and superimposes this upon the New Testament."'* 
Feinberg argues similarly that a dispensational approach is scientifi- 
cally inductive and does not, like Ladd, "wipe out the testimony of 
the Old Testament because of a certain view of the New."'^ 

The upshot of all this is that covenant theologians and dispensa- 
tionalists disagree on the nature of progressive revelation. Each group 
accuses the other of misinterpreting the NT due to alien presupposi- 

"john F. Walvoord, "Does the Church Fulfill Israel's Program?" (part 1) BSac 
137 (1980) 20. Later Walvoord states the issue as "whether progressive revelation ever 
reverses preceding revelation and denies its validity" (29). 

'^Charles L. Feinberg, Millennialism: The Two Major Views (3d ed; Ltiicago: 
Moody, 1980) 60. It is interesting to note that the disciples' expected literal fulfillment 
was not denied by Christ in Acts 1. Christ merely told them that the time of the 
fulfillment was not their concern. 

"Ladd, Meaning of the Millennium, 27. Similarly, see Hoekema, Meaning of the 
Millennium, 107. 

'^Hoyt, Meaning of the Millennium, 43. 

"Feinberg, Millennialism, 56; see also 52, 61. 

turner: the continuity of scripture and eschatology 281 

tions. It is a case of conflicting preunderstandings. Yet a legitimate 
question is raised concerning biblical continuity. If NT reinterpretation 
reverses, cancels, or seriously modifies OT promises to Israel, one 
wonders how to define the word "progressive." God's faithfulness to 
his promises to Israel must also be explained. 

Feinberg's point on induction is well taken. It reminds one of the 
principle of "antecedent theology" popularized by Kaiser. ^*^ Though 
not known as a dispensationalist, his insistence that the Bible is an 
organic unity and that interpreters must not read later revelation 
back into earlier revelation resembles the dispensationalist's insistence 
that the NT does not alter the plain meaning of the OT. 

A Test Case 

One passage Ladd includes in his argument for OT reinterpreta- 
tion in the NT is the use of Hos 1:10; 2:23 in Rom 9:25-26. In Ladd's 
view Paul deliberately takes prophecy about the future of Israel and 
applies it to the church, thus showing that the passage in Hosea is 
clearly fulfilled in the Christian church.^' Hoyt responds to this 
approach with the assertion that Paul is simply applying Hosea 's 
material to the church "for the purpose of explaining something that 
is true of both."^^ Of course, even Hoyt's analogy view implies some 
continuity between Israel and the church. 

Though Hoyt is correct that Ladd's interpretation is gratuitous, a 
third view is preferable to Hoyt's. Examination of the context of 
Romans 9 shows an exclusive reference to Israel until 9:24, where 
Paul introduces the Gentiles who along with Israel are "vessels of 
mercy" (9:23). Gentiles are again contrasted with Israel in 9:30-31. 
However, the overwhelming emphasis of Romans 9 is upon Paul's 
burden for unbelieving Israel. In 9:27 Paul cites what Isaiah says 
"concerning Israel." This fits the context of Hosea perfectly. There is 
thus no evidence that Paul is thinking primarily of the church in Rom 
9:25-26. Instead, he is thinking (along the same lines as Hosea) of the 
present unbelief and future restoration of the nation of Israel. ^^ 

Walter C. Kaiser, Toward an Old Testament Theology (Grand Rapids: Zonder- 
van, 1978) 14-19; and Toward an Exegetical Theolgoy (Grand' Rapids: Baker, 1981) 

■'Ladd, Meaning of the Millennium, 43-44. It ought to be noted that Boettner 
and Hoekema agree with Ladd's hermeneutic (47, 55). 

"Hoyt, Meaning of the Millennium, 43. Though both Ladd and Hoyt speak of the 
NT "applying" the OT to the church, Ladd means that the church fulfills the OT and 
Hoyt means that the church is similar to Israel. 

"This approach has been argued well by John A. Battle, "Paul's Use of the Old 
Testament in Romans 9:25-26," GTy 2 (1981) 115-29. 



The NT use of the OT is a complex matter deserving much more 
study. It is encouraging that this appears to be a popular topic for 
scholarly study at present. At least three courses of action should be 
pursued as such study proceeds. First, both the covenant theologian 
and the dispensationalist must sharpen their positions on the NT use 
of the OT. It appears exceedingly doubtful that the NT reinterprets 
the OT so as to evaporate the plain meaning of its promises. This 
comes perilously close to conflicting with such NT passages as Matt 
5:18 and John 10:35/). On the other hand, it is clear that the NT is not 
always as literal in its handling of the OT as some dispensationalists 
might think. Genuine typology and analogy between OT and NT 
should not be viewed as destructive to the literal fulfillment of the OT 
promises to Israel, but rather an indication of a greater continuity 
between Israel and the church than dispensationalists have often been 
willing to admit. 

A second course of action to be pursued is semantic — the clear- 
ing up of definitions. Crucial terms such as "literal," "typological," 
"reinterpretation," and "application" must be defined in a consistent 
manner agreeable to both groups. For example, what the covenant 
theologian calls the NT "reinterpretation" of the OT may be viewed 
by the dispensationalist as NT "application" of the OT. Third, the 
covenant theologian must beware of a tendency to erase the future of 
the nation of Israel from Scripture,^"* and the dispensationalist must 
beware of a tendency to exaggerate the biblical distinctions between 
Israel and the church." One aspect of the Israel/ church question 
concerns the nature of the kingdom of God, which will be addressed 

^""it is encouraging tiiat Anthony A. Hoei(ema's 77?^ Bible and the Future (Grand 
Rapids: Eerdmans, 1979) shows some openness to the future of the nation of Israel 
upon the new (renewed) earth (23-40, 146-47). Hoekema's well stated "Critique of 
Dispensationalism" (194-222) deserves serious attention and response from dispensa- 
tional scholars. Attention should also be drawn to Willem A. Van Gemeren's two part 
series "Israel as the Hermeneutical Crux in the Interpretation of Prophecy," WTJ 45 
(1983) 132-44; and 46 (1984) 254-97. Van Gemeren's overview of reformed escha- 
tology since Calvin is enlightening. His description of some reformed OT exegesis takes 
the form of a parody upon the familiar words of Augustine: "the Old is by the New 
restricted and the New is on the Old inflicted" (269). He calls upon the reformed 
community to realize that the NT does not so much "fulfill" the OT as to "confirm" 
that "all the expectations of the OT prophets will be fulfilled" (280). 

"See Kenneth L. Barker, "False Dichotomies Between the Testaments," JETS 25 
(1982) 3-16. It is encouraging here to note two recent essays by Robert L. Saucy. In 
"Contemporary Dispensational Thought," TSF Bulletin I'A (1984) 10-11, he shows 
how some dispensationalists "have come to see a greater unity in the historical program 
of God" without giving up the literal fulfillment of Israel's OT promises (II). See also 
"Dispensationalism and the Salvation of the Kingdom," TSF Bulletin 7:5 (1984) 6-7. 

turner: the continuity of scripture and eschatology 283 



In the larger context of the scholarly debate on NT eschatology, 
the central question seems to revolve around the nature of the king- 
dom of God in Jesus' teaching as being either present/ immanent or 
future/ transcendent. Today it is customary to merge the present and 
future views in an "already but not yet" inaugurated or proleptic 
eschatology. This rather simplistic summary may supply a larger con- 
text into which this present study may be integrated. ^^ 

Two Basic Approaches 

Postmillennialists and amillennialists seem to agree that the mil- 
lennium is either identical with, inclusive of, or included within the 
present age.^^ Chronologically the two systems are similar. Amillen- 
nialism views the millennium as strictly present; the only literal reign 
of Christ upon the earth is reserved for the new earth or eternal 
state. ^* Postmillennialism is more difficult to analyze on this point, 
but it is characterized by a greater degree of optimism in its view of 
the prospects of the church before the second coming of Christ. (In 
some postmillennial schemes the present age blends into the millen- 
nium.) Indeed, the postmillennialist Rushdoony styles amillenniahsts 
as "merely premillennialists without any hope for the historical 
future. "^^ Granted this difference between postmillennialism and 
amillennialism, it is still true that these two systems are at one in 

One might also note W. Robert Cook, The Theology of John (Chicago: Moody, 1975) 
167-68, 226-27, n. 27, who argues that the Israel-church distinction will become less 
and less clear in the future. Some of the continuity stressed by Cook and Saucy may 
have been anticipated by Erich Sauer in From Eternity to Eternity (Grand Rapids: 
Eerdmans, 1954) 166, 177; and in The Dawn of World Redemption (Grand Rapids: 
Eerdmans, 1953) 147. Elliott E. Johnson argues for a NT basis for dispensationalism in 
"Hermeneutics and Dispensationalism" in Walvoord: A Tribute, ed. Donald K. Camp- 
bell (Chicago: Moody, 1982) 239-55. Stanley D. Toussaint's "A Biblical Defense of 
Dispensationalism" in the same volume (81-91) includes some helpful clarifications 

^*For useful surveys of thought on the nature of the kingdom see McClain, Great- 
ness, 7-14; Ladd, The Presence of the Future, 3-42; Norman Perrin, The Kingdom of 
God in the Teaching of Jesus (London: SCM, 1963) 13-89; and Hoekema, The Bible 
and the Future, 2SS-316. 

"This may be seen, e.g., in the similar views of Boettner and Hoekema in The 
Meaning of the Millennium. 

'*E.g., Hoekema, The Bible and the Future, 41-54, 201-14, 220-38, 274-87., 

^'Rousas J. Rushdoony, cited by Gary North, "Editor's Introduction," Journal of 
Christian Reconstruction 3:2 (1976) 5. 


emphasizing the presence, not the future, of the millennium (God's 

All premillennialists, on the other hand, stress the future reign of 
Christ upon the earth as the consummation of history prior to the 
inauguration of the new heavens/ new earth or the eternal state. Yet 
premillennialists are divided over the present nature of the kingdom. 
Ladd is one premillennialist who is convinced that Scripture demands 
a view which emphasizes the present nature of the kingdom.^'' In fact, 
he views the present aspect of the kingdom as exegetically more de- 
fensible than- its future aspect.^' On the other hand, dispensationalists 
have traditionally maintained the offer, rejection, suspension, and 
final establishment scenario," though there have been some excep- 
tions." The tendency of dispensationalists has been to view NT refer- 
ences to a present kingdom as judicial or proleptic in nature.^'' Ladd 
argues instead that the kingdom should be viewed more as God's 
dynamic rule (in present and future) than as a static future realm^^ 

Problems with the Approaches 

It appears that a major problem with amillennialism and post- 
millennialism is found in the preaching of John the baptizer and 
Jesus. John and Jesus challenged Israel to repent in view of the 
kingdom which was at hand (Matt 3:1-2; 4:17). What was meant by 
the term "kingdom?"^^ Feinberg observes that 

no explanation is offered as to the meaning of the "Kingdom" . . . , for 
the people knew what was implied. . . . After a study of the Old Testa- 
ment prophetic Scriptures, what else could one expect . . . ? There was 
no need to describe the conditions and characteristics of the Kingdom, 
for that had been done so repeatedly and minutely." 

Key texts showing the presence of the kingdom include Matt 3:2; 4:17; 10:7; 
12:28; Luke 17:21; and Col 1:13. See Ladd, The Presence of the Future, 149-217. 

^'George E. Ladd, "Review of The Greatness of the Kingdom" EvQ 32 (1960) 

"See, e.g, McClain, Greatness of the Kingdom, 259-430; G. N. H. Peters, The 
Theocratic Kingdom (3 vols; reprint; Grand Rapids: Kregel, 1952), 1. 375-78, 590-91, 
621-31; 2. 224-25, 461-72, 668-730; 3. 29-31, 582-602; and, more recently, Feinberg, 
Millennialism, 229-49. 

"Notably Sauer, Eternity to Eternity, 175-77. 

"McClain, Greatness of the Kingdom, 434-39. 

"Ladd, Presence of the Future, 149-217. 

"it is unnecessary here to debate whether "kingdom of heaven" in Matthew is 
identical to or different from "kingdom of God" in the other gospels. However, it is 
believed that dispensationalists who distinguish between the two terms are in error. 

Feinberg, Millennialism, 131. See also McClain, Greatness of the Kingdom, 
274-303; and Hoyt, Meaning of the Millennium, 85. 

turner: the continuity of scripture and eschatology 285 

Many amillennialists and postmillennialists, however, do not believe 
that the kingdom John and Jesus announced should be equated with 
the promised kingdom of the OT. And here is where a major dis- 
continuity arises in their view of progressive revelation. If the king- 
dom announced in the NT is not to be equated with that kingdom 
promised in the OT, then what is it? And why were the Jews so 
accountable for rejecting the signs which pointed to it?^^ 

This discontinuity between OT and NT is also noticeable in 
Ladd/^ The amillennialist Kushke welcomes Ladd's emphasis upon 
the kingdom as a present reality but points out that Ladd's view 
results in a major discontinuity between OT and NT. In Kushke's 
view Ladd's position raises serious questions about the good faith of 
the OT prophecies.""^ Evidently Kushke would agree with Ladd that 
the kingdom offered in the NT was spiritual but would deny that the 
OT prophets predicted a future earthly kingdom for Israel. Mawhin- 
ney has also argued that Ladd's view of the NT kingdom as being 
present in realm as well as reign renders a future kingdom as realm 

Dispensationalism also has its problems in articulating the con- 
tinuity of Scripture in terms of a present and future kingdom. The 
pre-cross NT offer of the kingdom has been viewed by many as 
suggesting the possibility of salvation apart from the work of Christ 
on the cross. Unfortunately, some dispensationalists have articulated 
this doctrine in a manner which implies that the cross was unn ^es- 
sary or that it represented an emergency "Plan B" which replaced the 
original kingdom program."^ Such implications must be disavowed by 
dispensationalists as untenable — God decreed the cross work of Christ; 
it was always a necessity in his plan (1 Pet 1:20). However, as many 
passages in the gospels indicate, Israel was accountable to respond 
to the kingdom message. In a genuine exercise of human responsi- 
bility the nation as a whole rejected this message, and, from a 
human perspective, Israel's national experience of the kingdom was 

^^This problem is not so noticeable in the articulation of this issue by Hoekema, 
The Bible and the Future, 13-22. It is more obvious in several of the older works cited 
by McClain, Greatness of the Kingdom, 274ff., and in Hughes, Interpreting Prophecy, 
24-28. Of course some would argue that the OT never predicted an earthly kingdom 
for Israel. 

"Ladd, Meaning of the Millennium, 94; and Crucial Questions, 1 13. 

''"Arthur W. Kushke, "Review of G. E. Ladd: Crucial Questions about the King- 
dom of God," WTJ 15 (1953) 157-58. 

"" Allan Mawhinney, "Review of G. E. Ladd: The Presence of the Future," WTJ "il 
(1975) 285-86. Similarly, see McClain, Greatness of the Kingdom, 275, n. 7. 

"^Hughes, Interpreting Prophecy, 104-5; Hoekema, The Bible and the Future, 
212-14; and Ladd, Meaning of the Millennium, 94. 


All of this is somewhat problematic, as some dispensationalists 
have admitted/^ However it is only another aspect of the divine 
sovereignty/ human responsibility tension which may be observed else- 
where in Scripture (e.g.. Matt 26:24; Acts 2:23). The cardinal example 
of such tension might indeed be the fall of Adam and Eve in Genesis 
2-3. What if Adam and Eve had not rejected God's plan for them 
(Gen 2:16-17)? Is this question really all that different from the one 
which asks what //'Israel as a nation had accepted the kingdom offer? 
God knew that Adam and Eve would fall and that Israel would 
nationally reject the kingdom offer. Yet there was a genuine exercise 
of human responsibility and a resulting culpability in both cases. """^ 
Covenant theologians should thus have no problems in principle with 
the dispensational articulation of the offer of the Kingdom. And what 
of those who did respond in faith to Jesus' message? Dispensational- 
ists must improve their articulation of the present dynamic rule of 
God in the lives of believers (Matt 12:28; Col. 1:13). 


The tension between the present and future aspects of the king- 
dom is problematic for all eschatological positions. Amillennialists 
and, to a lesser degree, postmillennialists and historic premillennial- 
ists, have emphasized the presence of the kingdom. Dispensationalists 
have emphasized the future of the kingdom. All of these views need 
further refinement and modification in the light of further study and 
debate. As the evidence continues to be studied, covenant theologians 
should exhibit more openness to the possibility of a future kingdom 
of God upon this earth in literal fulfillment of the OT. Similarly, 
dispensationalists should be more open to the legitimate exegetical 
insights of Ladd and others concerning the present aspect of God's 
rule. There is no reason why this should invalidate the millennium or 
other legitimate dispensational distinctives. 


This study has outlined three hermeneutical issues which impact 
the contemporary debate on eschatology. It has been argued that 
evangelicals should avoid brash charges of "allegorizing" or "hyper- 
literalism." Instead, debate should focus upon issues such as specific 
NT uses of the OT (e.g.. Acts 2/ Joel 2; Acts 15/ Amos 9) and specific 
passages revealing the complex nature of the kingdom of God. The 

"■^E.g., McClain, Greatness of the Kingdom, 319-20. 
See Feinberg, Millennialism, 146. 

turner: the continuity of scripture and eschatology 287 

continuity of Scripture (as demonstrated in specific passages) is the 
broad issue at stake here — not theoretical hermeneutics. 

My research in this area has shown that eschatological debates 
are often destructive rather than constructive. A bitter and polemical 
spirit ill becomes discussions within the body of Christ. It is easier to 
erect and demolish straw men than it is to courteously and carefully 
confront real issues. ''^ 

Twentieth century "eschatologians" should take to heart the 
words and spirit of the second century father Justin Martyr. Evidently 
Justin was a premillennialist. In his Dialogue with the heretic Trypho 
he claimed to share premillennialism with "others, who are right- 
minded Christians on all points." Yet he admitted that "many who 
belong to the pure and pious faith, and are true Christians, think 
otherwise.""^ Let us save our polemics for modern Tryphos and dis- 
cuss eschatology in a manner befitting Christians. 

■*'One wonders how much good would have been accomplished had Ladd and 
McClain enjoyed a more constructive dialogue than that which appears in Christianity 
Today 4:1 (Oct 12, 1959) 38-40; and 4:10 (Feb 15, 1960) 23-24. Ladd heatedly attacked 
McClain's position, but McClain responded that Ladd had seriously misconstrued that 
position. It is encouraging to note Radmacher's belief that a growing rapprochement is 
taking place in more recent days ("Current Status of Dispensationalism," 163). 

"'Justin Martyr, Dialogue with Trypho, chap. 80, in The Ante-Nicene Fathers, 
vol. 1, ed. A. Roberts and J. Donaldson, rev. A. C. Coxe (reprint; Grand Rapids: 
Eerdmans, 1973) 239. 

Grace TheologicalJournal 6.2 {19S5) 289-298 


Homer A. Kent, Jr. 

The relevance of the new covenant to the church today requires a 
careful look into both the OT and the NT. When Jesus mentioned the 
new covenant as he was instituting the bread and the cup, he clearly 
indicated its significance for the church. When the OT is examined to 
discover what this new covenant involved, and when the NT is 
investigated for further clarification, it becomes clear that only one 
new covenant is in view, even though different groups may derive 
somewhat varying benefits from it. The essence of the new covenant 
is spiritual regeneration, enjoyed now by Christian believers and 
prophesied for national Israel at the second coming of Christ. 

THE concept of "covenant" is a pivotal one in biblical studies. 
Both the OT and NT utilize words denoting this idea, and their 
contexts reveal how crucial certain covenants were in explaining the 
actions which followed. Gleason Archer's definition of the term may 
serve as a working guide: 

A compact or agreement between two parties binding them mutually to 
undertakings on each other's behalf. Theologically (used of relations 
between God and man) it denotes a gracious undertaking entered into 
by God for the benefit and blessing of man, and specifically of those 
men who by faith receive the promises and commit themselves to the 
obligations which this undertaking involves. ' 

Students of Scripture are particularly concerned with the cov- 
enants which God has announced for man. Inasmuch as these are 
expressions of his will, his promises, and his demands, they are 
supremely important to the Christian who has committed his trust 
and allegiance to God and the doing of his will. 

G. L. Archer, "Covenant," Evangelical Dictionary of Theology (Grand Rapids: 
Baker, 1984)276. 


In the OT six covenants are clearly mentioned: Noahic (Gen 6:18; 
8:20-9:17); Abrahamic (Genesis 15, 17); Mosaic or Sinaitic (Exod 
19:5, 20); Palestinian (Deuteronomy 29-30); Davidic (2 Sam 7:4-16; 
23:5); and New Covenant (Jer 31:31-34; Ezekiel 36-37). In addition 
some would posit by deduction an Edenic Covenant, and would sep- 
arate the Mosaic into Sinaitic and Levitical.^ Much of Reformed 
Theology also sees two or three theological covenants: The Covenant 
of Works, the Covenant of Redemption (debated by some covenant 
theologians), and the Covenant of Grace. ^ This article will consider 
the biblical New Covenant prophesied by Jeremiah, referred to by 
Jesus, and mentioned with some extended discussion elsewhere in the 


When Jesus ate the last supper with his disciples in the upper 
room, he introduced the memorial drinking of the cup with the words, 
"This cup is the new testament (f\ Kaivf) 5ia0f|Kr|) in my blood" 
(Luke 22:20). No further explanation is given as to the identity of this 
covenant, yet the presence of the article implies that a specific and 
presumably understood covenant is in view. Thus one logically con- 
cludes that the disciples would have thought in terms of their own 
biblical heritage. The new covenant recorded as prophecy by Jeremiah 
seems almost certainly to have been the covenant of which the dis- 
ciples would have thought. 

Jeremiah's announcement of the new covenant was made during 
a very dark period for Israel. The northern kingdom had already been 
overthrown and its citizens led captive by the Assyrians (2 Kgs 17:5- 
6). Foreign colonists were brought into the land to repopulate it 
(2 Kgs 17:5-6, 23-24). The southern kingdom was likewise in dire 
straits. The prophet had begun his ministry in the days of Josiah and 
lived to see the Babylonian captivity begin. It was during those 
momentous days that God gave him the prophecy of the new covenant 
that offered better things for the suffering nation. 

The new covenant recorded in Jeremiah would be made with the 
house of Israel and with the house of Judah (31:31). This implies that 
the two kingdoms would both exist and presumably be united, inas- 
much as only one new covenant is mentioned. The Jewish contem- 
poraries of Jeremiah would have understood that God was promising 

^J. B. Payne, "Covenant in the Old Testament," Zondervan Pictorial Encyclopedia 
of the Bible (GrdiX\A Rapids: Zondervan, 1975) 1. 1007-10. 

^R. A. Killen and John Rea, "Covenant," Wycliffe Bible Encyclopedia (Chicago: 
Moody, 1975) 1. 387, 390; and M. E. Osterhaven, "Covenant Theology," Evangelical 
Dictionary of Theology (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1984) 279-80. 


to them a new kind of relationship. In the context preceding this 
prophecy, they had been informed that the people would be regathered 
to their land (30:1-3). This would occur after the time of Israel's 
greatest suffering known as "Jacob's trouble" (30:7), when all their 
enemies have been destroyed (30:16), and their homeland rebuilt 
(30:17, 18). 

God promised that the new covenant would be a different sort 
than the Mosaic one he had given. It would bring a spiritual trans- 
formation by an inward change, not just by imposition of external 
code (31:33). Forgiveness of sins would be complete, and the know- 
ledge of God would be universal among participants (31:34). God 
also called it an everlasting covenant (32:40). 

This was not, however, a totally new concept when Jeremiah 
voiced it. In the eighth century B.C. Isaiah spoke of a different 
covenant which God was promising: 

Incline your ear and come to Me. Listen, that you may live; And I will 
make an everlasting covenant with you. According to the faithful 
mercies shown to David [55:3; all biblical quotations from NASB]. 

And as for Me, this is my covenant with them, says my Lord: My 
Spirit which is upon you, and My words which I have put in your 
mouth, shall not depart from your mouth, nor from the mouth of your 
offspring, nor from the mouth of your offspring's offspring, says the 
Lord from now and forever [59:21]. 

And I will faithfully give them their recompense. And I will make an 
everlasting covenant with them [61:8]. 

Ezekiel, a contemporary of Jeremiah in the sixth century B.C., 
was also aware of this promise of a new covenant from God: 

Nevertheless, I will remember My Covenant with you in the days of 
your youth, and I will establish an everlasting covenant with you. . . . 
Thus Iwill establish My covenant with you and you shall know that I 
am the Lord [16:60-62]. 

And I will make a covenant of peace with them; it will be an everlasting 
covenant with them. And I will place them and multiply them, and will 
set My sanctuary in their midst forever. My dwelling place also will be 
with them; and I will be their God, and they will be my>people [37:26- 

The same thought is obviously in view in another passage in 
Ezekiel, although the word "covenant" is not used: 

For I will take you from the nations, gather you from all the lands, and 
bring you into your own land. Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, 
and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and 


from all your idols. Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a 
new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your 
flesh and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put My Spirit within you 
and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will be careful to 
observe My ordinances. And you will live in the land that I gave to 
your forefathers; so you will be My people, and I will be your God 

Thus, there is an extensive OT background to the New Covenant. 
This enabled Jews in the NT era to receive the concept as familiar 


Explicit mention of the New Covenant occurs six times in the 
NT, although the thought is found more frequently than these few 
references. Of special interest is the Greek term 5ia6f|Kr| / 'covenant, 
testament', which is employed in each of these instances. It was not 
the usual term among the Greeks for a treaty or agreement. That 
concept was usually reserved for auv9f|Kr| — a covenant or agreement 
negotiated by two parties on equal terms. Rarely was 5ia9f|Kri used in 
the sense of treaty. J. Behm can cite only one instance of this term 
with the sense of "treaty," and that was with the meaning of "a treaty 
between two parties, but binding only on the one according to the 
terms fixed by the other."" Consequently, 6ia0f|Kr| had the more 
common meaning of "will" or "testament," both in legal circles in 
every period, and in popular usage also. Apparently the NT writers 
without exception chose this term in referring to God's covenant with 
man because in its one-sidedness it was more like a will than a 
negotiated treaty. 

Jesus' Reference to the New Covenant 

The sole reference in the Gospels using the phrase "new covenant" 
is found in Luke. Parallels in Matthew and Mark mention "covenant" 
but not "new covenant" (Matt 26:28; Mark 14:24). Luke wrote, "And 
in the same way He took the cup after they had eaten, saying, This 
cup which is poured out for you is the new covenant in My blood" 
(Luke 22:20). 

Because of Jesus' previous disclosures to his disciples that he was 
the Messiah and that the kingdom of heaven was at hand (Matt 4:17; 
16:16-17), the hearers at the last supper would have had no reason to 
suppose he was referring to any other new covenant than the one 

"j. Behm, "AiaGriKri," TDNT 1 (1964) 125. His entire discussion of this term is 
excellent and highly recommended (see pp. 104-34). 


foretold in the OT. The absence of any clarification or further dis- 
closure by Jesus reinforces this conclusion. 

The Lord Jesus used the occasion in the upper room on the eve 
of crucifixion to announce that his death would establish the New 
Covenant. His words also made it clear that his blood was shed "for 
you"; hence the disciples were participants and beneficiaries in some 
sense. Furthermore, the context records the command for perpetua- 
tion of the ceremony as a remembrance, thus pointing to the future 
significance for those disciples and others whom they would enlist 
(Luke 22:19). 

Paul's References to the New Covenant 

The first Pauline use of the phrase "new covenant" occurs in his 
first canonical letter written in Corinth, "In the same way He took the 
cup also, after supper, saying. This cup is the new covenant in My 
blood; do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me" 
(1 Cor 11:25). Here Paul was endeavoring to correct some abuses in 
the church at Corinth regarding inappropriate conduct at the Lord's 
Supper (1 Cor 1 1:20). The meal they were eating together had become 
a selfish, uncharitable scene of mere temporal gratification. Surely it 
was an unworthy preparation for the ceremonial bread and cup to 
follow. Consequently Paul referred the readers to the events of the 
last supper, and quoted the words of Jesus regarding the meaning of 
the symbols. It is clear that he regarded the Corinthians' observance 
as the perpetuation of what Jesus had instituted, even though it had 
undergone some gross distortion by their practices. It was the distor- 
tion he was correcting, not their understanding of Jesus' command 
that the blood of the new covenant was to be remembered by them. 

Paul's second use of the phrase occurs in a totally different con- 
text, although written to the same church. He wrote, "who also made 
us adequate as servants of a new covenant, not of the letter, but of 
the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life" (2 Cor 3:6). In 
this passage Paul was exulting in the ministry which God had given 
him under the New Covenant as compared to the Mosaic covenant, 
which he characterized as a ministry of condemnation and death. The 
OT period was a time of fading glory (3:7) with Jewish hearts being 
veiled from clear understanding (3:14). However, as t*aul proclaimed 
the gospel of Christ, the energizing power of the Spirit made alive 
those who responded. The obscuring veil was removed (3:16), true 
spiritual liberty resulted (3:17), and life was possessed by every believer 
(3:6). Allowing Paul to define his own terms, the "new covenant" 
(which his preaching of the gospel was promoting) was the same new 
covenant which Jesus announced in the upper room and which his 
death secured for believers. 


References to the New Covenant in Hebrews 

The expression "new covenant" occurs three times in the epistle 
to the Hebrews. In one of these the word "new" is different from the 
other two. In addition several other references in Hebrews employ the 
word "covenant" alone but are presumably references also to the New 
Covenant (8:10, 13;9:15^; 10:16). 

The first reference is the author's quotation of Jer 31:31, "For 
finding fault with them. He says. Behold days are coming, says the 
Lord, when I will effect a new covenant with the house of Israel and 
with the house of Judah" (8:8). In this section of Hebrews the author 
cited the entire paragraph from Jeremiah (31:31-34) and used it to sup- 
port his contention that Christ had become the mediator of a better 
covenant than that of Moses; Christ established the New Covenant 
of Jeremiah's prophecy. The author cited enough of Jeremiah to 
convey the basic promises of the New Covenant. This enabled the 
readers to see clearly that their Christian experience paralleled much 
of what had been promised. 

The first promise mentioned that under the New Covenant God's 
laws would be implanted in the very minds and hearts of the partici- 
pants (Heb 8:10; Jer 31:33). No longer would those laws be only an 
external code inscribed on stone. Thus compliance would be by inner 
desire, not by outward compulsion. This transformation is the very 
essence of regeneration. This promise of inner change was clearly 
specified also in Ezek 36:26-27. 

This does not mean that no Jew under the Mosaic Covenant had 
a transformed heart. What is being stated is that the New Covenant 
itself would provide this for every participant. Such was not the case 
with the Mosaic Covenant. Even though it was obviously possible to 
know God and have a transformed heart during OT times, the old 
covenant itself did not provide this. Many Jews lived under the pro- 
visions of the Mosaic Covenant and still died in unbelief. The New 
Covenant, however, guarantees regeneration to its beneficiaries. 

The second promise of the New Covenant assured that its provi- 
sions would be efficacious to every participant (Heb 8:1 1; Jer 31:34^). 
The knowledge of God would not be dependent upon further revela- 
tion and instruction from prophets, priests, or more knowledgeable 
neighbors. Only true believers will participate in the New Covenant, 
and God will plant the knowledge of himself in their hearts by his 
Spirit. Every believer without exception will have this knowledge. 

Jesus taught the same truth: "It is written in the prophets, and 
they shall all be taught of God. Everyone who has heard and learned 
from the Father, comes to me" (John 6:45). The apostle John con- 
veyed the same truth: "But you have an anointing from the Holy One, 
and you all know" (1 John 2:20); "And as for you, the anointing 


which you received from Him abides in you, and you have no need 
for anyone to teach you" (1 John 2:27). Of course John did not mean 
that no teachers are ever needed by believers. Christ gave the gift of 
teaching to some beHevers (Eph4:ll; 1 Tim 3:2), and John himself 
was teaching as he wrote these words. The sense is that the function 
of human teachers is not to convey new revelation or knowledge, but 
to clarify and unfold the intuitive knowledge which, in germ at least, 
is possessed by all believers. 

The third promise of the New Covenant provides complete for- 
giveness to all who are under its provisions (Heb8:12; Jer 31:34/?). 
Sins would be put away permanently in a sense different from the old 
covenant. Later in the epistle the point is made that repeated sacrifices 
reminded Israelites that no final sacrifice for sin had been offered 
(Heb 10:3, 4). The New Covenant would deal with sins in such a way 
that no continued remembrance by repeated sacrifices would occur. 
Christ's death provided complete expiation for sins once-for-all. It is 
obviously the intention of the author to show that the promises of the 
New Covenant are all experienced by Christians. 

The second Hebrews usage mentions Christ as the mediator of 
the new covenant. 

And for this reason He is the mediator of a new covenant, in order that 
since a death has taken place for the redemption of the transgressions 
that were committed under the first covenant, those who have been 
called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance [9:15]. 

Christ's death not only made possible the provisions stated in 
Jeremiah regarding the New Covenant, but also superseded the old 
covenant. It provided an expiation for the guilt of those who lived 
under the Mosaic Covenant. Their sin had been "covered" by animal 
sacrifices, but that could not provide true expiation (Heb 10:4). 
Christ's death thus validated the New Covenant and also implied that 
the old covenant was obsolete and could disappear (Heb 8:13). 

The final usage of the phrase in Hebrews uses a different adjective 
for "new," and mentions the covenant in a context that brings together 
a number of different parties. Heb 12:24 reads, "And to Jesus, the 
mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood, which speaks 
better than the blood of Abel." 

The adjective "new" used here is veag, which denotes something 
recent as distinguished from Kaivog, the adjective used in all other 
instances with 5ia0r|Kr|, which denotes what is new in quality or 
nature.^ The author presumably had in mind the recent revelation of 
Jesus Christ. Of course, he was referring to the same new covenant. 

'j. Behm, "Kaivoq," TDNT3 (1965) 447. 


The context of Hebrews 12 describes the Christian readers as the 
spiritual colleagues of those in the city of the living God in the 
presence of myriads of angels (v 22). They have joined with the church 
of the firstborn ones enrolled in heaven — a reference apparently to 
living NT believers (v 23a). They are also now in association with the 
spirits of righteous men made perfect (v 23b). These were OT saints 
with whom Christians share a common salvation. They are called 
"spirits" because they are not yet united with their bodies in resurrec- 
tion, but their spirits have been made perfect because Christ's sacrifice 
for sins has provided expiation (11:40). Thus the New Covenant has 
relevance for OT believers as well as the NT ones. 


In spite of certain obvious connections between the biblical teach- 
ing regarding the New Covenant and the blessings experienced by the 
NT church, the careful student of Scripture recognizes other problems 
that must be resolved before the issue can be fully answered. To 
whom does the New Covenant actually apply? How does the NT 
church fit into its framework? 

Amillennialists usually view the nation of Israel, with whom the 
New Covenant was specifically connected in OT revelation, as being 
permanently displaced. All of the promises to Israel are now being 
fulfilled by the NT church. O. T. AUis is representative of this position 
as he states: 

The passage [Heb 8:8-13] speaks of the new covenant. It declares that 
this new covenant has been already introduced and that by virtue of 
the fact that it is called "new" it has made the one which it is replacing 
"old," and that the old is about to vanish away. It would be hard to 
find a clearer reference to the gospel age in the Old Testament than in 
these verses in Jeremiah.* 

Premillennialists, on the other hand, have dealt with this issue in 
various ways. Some have insisted that the new covenant was made 
with Israel, and will be fulfilled with Israel alone at the second coming 
of Christ (Rom 11:26-27). J. N. Darby, for instance, represents this 

The first covenant was made with Israel; the second must be so likewise, 
according to the prophecy of Jeremiah. . . . We enjoy indeed all the 
essential privileges of the new covenant, its foundation being laid on 

^Oswald T. Allis, Prophecy and the Church (Philadelphia: Presbyterian and 
Reformed, 1945) 154. 


God's part in the blood of Christ, but we do so in spirit, not according 
to the letter.^ 

A smaller group of premillennialists explains the data as pointing 
to two new covenants, one for Israel and one for the NT church. This 
explanation attempts to treat the OT data in its straightforward, 
historical sense, and yet recognizes that the NT references do relate 
the church to the New Covenant. L. S. Chafer explains: 

There remains to be recognized a heavenly covenant for the heavenly 
people, which is also styled like the preceding one for Israel a "new 
covenant." It is made in the blood of Christ (cf. Mark 14:24) and 
continues in effect throughout this age, whereas the new covenant made 
with Israel happens to be future in its application. To suppose that 
these two covenants — one for Israel and one for the Church — are the 
same is to assume that there is a latitude of common interest between 
God's purposes for Israel and His purpose for the Church.* 

The commonest explanation among premillennialists is that there 
is one new covenant. It will be fulfilled eschatologically with Israel 
but is participated in soteriologically by the church today. By this 
explanation the biblical distinction between national Israel and the 
church is recognized, the unconditional character of Jeremiah's proph- 
ecy which made no provision for any forfeiture by Israel is maintained, 
and the clear relationship of certain NT references to the church and 
the New Covenant are upheld. The notes in the Scofield Reference 
Bible state that, "The New Covenant secures the personal revelation 
of the Lord to every believer (v. II)... and secures the perpetuity, 
future conversion, and blessing of Israel."^ 

The reasons supporting this understanding offer the best explana- 
tion of the biblical references. First, the normal way of interpreting 
the various references to "the New Covenant" is to see these as one 
New Covenant rather than two covenants with the same name and 
with virtually the same contents. Second, the crucial passages on the 
New Covenant in Hebrews are addressed to Christians. They may 
well have been Jewish Christians, but the essential fact is that they 
were Christians. Third, it is difficult if not impossible to maintain a 
consistent distinction between a New Covenant for Israel and a New 
Covenant exclusively for the church in the reference at Heb 12:23-24. 

J. N. Darby, Synopsis of the Books of the Bible (New York: Loizeaux, rev. ed., 
1942) 5. 329. 

*L. S. Chafer, Systematic Theology (Dallas: Dallas Theological Seminary, 1948) 
7. 98-99. 

'C. I. Scofield, ed., Scofield Reference Bible (New York: Oxford University, 1917) 
1297. The note at Heb 8:8 in the New Scofield Reference Bible (\9bl) 1317, is similar. 


In that passage both the church ("church of the firstborn") and OT 
saints ("spirits of just men made perfect") are related to the New 
Covenant, not two covenants. Fourth, Christ's mention of the New 
Covenant in the upper room discourse (Luke 22:20) would certainly 
have caused the apostles to relate it to Jeremiah 31. Yet Christ con- 
nected it with the symbolic bread and cup which he was instituting 
for the church. Fifth, the apostle Paul clearly connected the upper 
room instruction regarding the New Covenant to the practice of the 
Christian church (1 Cor 11:25). He further called himself and his 
associates "ministers of the new covenant" (2 Cor 3:6). Sixth, the dis- 
cussion in Hebrews 8 argues that the title "New Covenant" implies a 
corresponding "old covenant" which is now being superseded. The 
Mosaic Covenant is the old one for Israel. If the church has a totally 
separate New Covenant, what is the old one which it replaces? 

In the light of all factors, the last interpretation encounters fewer 
hermeneutical difficulties and provides the most plausible explanation. 
Charles C. Ryrie, who at an earlier time preferred the two New 
Covenants view,'*^ appears to have come to this conclusion: 

Concerning the Church's relation to the covenant, it seems best under- 
stood in the light of the progress of revelation. OT revelation of the 
covenant concerned Israel alone. The believer today is saved by the 
blood of the new covenant shed on the cross. All spiritual blessings are 
his because of this, and many of his blessings are the same as those 
promised to Israel under the OT revelation of the new covenant. How- 
ever, the Christian believer is not promised blessings connected with 
the restoration to the Promised Land, and he is not made a member of 
the commonwealth of Israel. He is a minister of the new covenant, for 
there is no other basis than the blood of that covenant for the salvation 
of any today. Nevertheless, in addition to revealing these facts about 
the Church and the new covenant, the NT also reveals that the blessings 
promised to Israel will be experienced by her at the second coming of 
Christ (Rom 11:26-27)." 

Charles C. Ryrie, The Basis of the Premillennial Faith (New York: Loizeaux, 
1953) 105-25. 

"C. C. Ryrie, "Covenant, New," Wycliffe Bible Encyclopedia (Chicago: Moody, 

Grace Theo/o^icalJournal 6.2 {19S5) 299-304 


Weston W. Fields 

The meaning of Mark 9:49 ("everyone will be salted with fire ") 
has long perplexed interpreters. Although this saying is in a literary 
context speaking of judgment, many have seen in it a reference to 
purification. However, since Hebrew was probably the lingual back- 
ground to the Gospel of Mark, the saying may be easily understood 
as "everyone [who is sent to hell] will be completely destroyed " 
(destroyed by fire). 


AMONG the difficult sayings of Jesus, Mark 9:49 is one of the 
most enigmatic. What could Jesus have meant when he said, 
"Everyone will be salted with fire"? Stated in a context of judgment in 
the fire of Geh-Hinnom (the valley of Hinnom outside the southwest 
walls of Jerusalem), this strange mixture of salt and fire has perplexed 
Greek scholars for a very long time. 


Bratcher and Nida have counted at least 15 different explanations 
for the verse,' and Gould calls it "one of the most difficult to interpret 
in the New Testament."^ He connects the saying not with the fire of 
judgment in the preceding context, but with the idea of purification 
as in the fire of a sacrifice. This is because both fire and salt were 
used by the Jews in their Temple sacrifices. According to the Mishnah, 
salt was put into the carcass of the sacrificial animal in order to soak 
out the blood. After the blood was soaked out, the carcass was fit for 

Robert G. Bratcher and Eugene A. Nida, A Translator's Handbook on the Gospel 
of Mark, vol. 2 in Helps for Translators (New York: United Bible Societies, 1961) 304. 

'Ezra P. Gould, A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Gospel According 
to St. Mark (ICC; Edinburgh: Clark, 1896) 180. 


consumption or sacrifice: "The priest . . . dried it by rubbing salt on it 
[the carcass of the sacrificial animal] and cast it on the fire."^ 

The interpretation that the salt and fire have something to do 
with purification or with dedication is in general the same one taken 
by Montefiore, Rawlinson, A. B. Bruce, Alford, Calvin, Meyer, 
Lange, Lane, Fudge, and F. F. Bruce/ It is evident as well in TEVs 
translation, "Everyone will be purified by fire as a sacrifice is purified 
by salt." 

Such connection of the verse with sacrifice also appears in its 
textual variants. Evidently the incomprehensibility of the verse led 
some scribe to make a marginal note (which later found its way into 
the text proper) or to make an outright change in the text. Whichever 
it was, this change involved lifting part of a phrase out of the LXX of 
Lev 2:13 and adding it to this text. The phrase is: nav 5(opov Qvoiac, 
ujicov d?Li d>iia6f|a8Tai / 'every one of your sacrificial gifts will be 
salted with salt'. This connection with Leviticus is seen clearly in the 
two main forms of the additions to the verse: (1) naoa ydp Ouaia d?ii 
d?iia9f|a8Tai (D itb-c.d.ff'.i^ 'for every sacrifice will be salted with salt') 
and (2) nac, ydp nvpi d>tia0r|a8Tai Kai Trdoa Bvcia dXi dA.io9f|a8Tai 
(A K Byz fl/, 'for everyone will be salted with fire, and every sacrifice 
will be salted with salt'). This last form seems to be a conflation of 
the shortest version of the verse and the version of intermediate length. 
Several other versions of the verse, which appear in only one manu- 
script each, also seem to be the result of scribal attempts to make 
some kind of sense out of the verse. Three of the four other pos- 
sibilities mentioned by Metzger have something to do with being 
"consumed" or "destroyed."^ 

'Philip Blackman, trans.. Order Kodashim, vol. 5 in Mishnayoth (Gateshead: 
Judaica, 1983)43. 

"G. C. Montefiore, The Synoptic Gospels, with a series of additional notes by 
I. Abrahams (3 vols.; London: Macmillan, 1909) 1. 233; A. E. J. Rawlinson, St. Mark 
(7th ed.; London: Methuen, 1949) 131; A. B. Bruce, "The Synoptic Gospels" in 
The Expositor's Greek Testament (ed. W. Robertson Nicoll; London: Hodder and 
Stoughton, 1897) 1. 407; Henry Alford, Alford's Greek Testament (Grand Rapids: 
Guardian, reprinted, 1976) 1. 380; John Calvin, A Harmony of the Gospels Matthew, 
Mark and Luke, vol. 1 in Calvin 's Commentaries (ed. David W. Torrance and Thomas F. 
Torrance; Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, reprinted, 1975) 176-77; H. A. W. Meyer, 
A Critical and Exegetical Hand-hook to the Gospels of Mark and Luke (ed. R. E. 
Wallis, W. P. Dickson, and M. B. Riddle; New York: Funk and Wagnalls, 1884) 
120-23; John Peter Lange, The Gospel According to Mark, revised with additions by 
W. G. T. Shedd, vol. 8 in Commentary on the Holy Scriptures (Grand Rapids: 
Zondervan, reprinted, 1971) 90-91; William L. Lane, The Gospel According to Mark 
(NICNT; Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1974) 349; Edward William Fudge, The Fire That 
Consumes (Houston: Providential, 1982), 186-87; and F. F. Bruce, The Hard Sayings 
of Jesus (London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1983) 38-39. 

Bruce M. Metzger, A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament (London 
and New York: United Bible Societies, 1971) 102-3. 

fields: salted with fire (mark 9:49) 301 

Most modern interpreters of the passage have not advanced much 
beyond these ancient scribes. In fact one gets the feeHng that many 
commentators are not happy with their own conclusions; yet the 
absence of a better alternative, coupled with the fact that in the 
Temple sacrifices salt and fire were found together, has led most 
interpreters to apply the purificational and dedicatory objectives of 
the sacrifices to Jesus' statement about the individuals in the passage 
under consideration. It is as though many of the commentators knew 
intuitively that the verse cannot say what it seems to say in Greek, for 
a figure of speech based on these two features among the many 
elements of a sacrifice hardly seems to fit the immediate context of 
Mark's narrative, even if Jesus' statement is purely metaphorical. Yet 
Mark or Mark's source must have felt that it made sense of some 
kind, even though the sense is not now obvious. 


Perhaps the solution is not to be found in the Greek text. This is 
one more saying of Jesus which is easily unlocked when it is translated 
into Hebrew, currently considered by a number of scholars to be the 
best candidate for the language of Jesus and of the earliest accounts 
of his life. A couple of questions may be asked to ascertain whether a 
Hebrew translation helps clarify the meaning of the Greek text.^ Does 
the semantic range for the word "salt" in Hebrew give any clues about 
what an expression like "salted with fire" (nupi a?iia9r|a8Tai) might 
have meant as an idiom in Hebrew? Could it be that a Hebrew 
expression was translated literally into Greek, not dynamically, and 
that in the course of time, as those who would recognize the Hebrew 
idiom behind the statement became fewer and fewer, the original 
meaning of it became lost? 

There is indeed a Hebrew expression which can answer these 
questions and solve the problem. Mark 9:49 is one of many pas- 
sages in Mark (some of which have been noted elsewhere by Lindsey) 
in which it is possible to translate word for word back into Hebrew 
and not even change the word order. Lindsey suggests the translation 
n^??'' II'Ka v;^Vi "75.* The UBS Modern Hebrew New Testament suggests 

""Cf. Robert L. Lindsey, "A Modified Two- Document Theory of the Synoptic 
Dependence and Interdependence," NovTb (1963) 245-47; idem, A Hebrew Translation 
of the Gospel of Mark (2d ed.; Jerusalem: Dugith, 1973) xxix-xxvi; and David Bivin 
and Roy B. Blizzard, Understanding the Difficult Words of Jesus (Arcadia, CA: Makor 
Foundation, 1983). See also Weston W. Fields ("Understanding the Difficult Words of 
Jesus: A Review Article," GTJ 5 [1984] 271-88) for a more complete listing of the 
articles and books supporting Hebrew originals for the Synoptics and those supporting 
Aramaic originals for the Synoptics. 

^Lindsey, A Hebrew Translation of the Gospel of Mark, xxix-xxvi. 

'Ibid., 125. 


the addition of p at the beginning of Mark 9:49 to account for the 
ydp in Greek. ^ DeHtzsch, following the Byzantine text-type, translates, 
n^p^ n^03 |3-ii7-'?DT nbrpi irrxa u^'-x-Vd ■'3.'° 

Among the several usages of the word nbJ2, the predominant one 
is usually translated "to salt." But there is another usage of nb?2 which 
Even-Shoshan defines with the term n"?? / 'to destroy', and U'U^p / 'to 
erase'." Alcalay translates the expression n'7?3 mpQ i?"lT / 'to destroy 
completely','^ for which the literal translation is "to sow a place with 
salt," an action described in Judg 9:45. There Abimelech destroys 
Shechem. One of the actions which was part of the destruction was 
sowing salt in the city. This is an illustration of the background of 
what, according to Alcalay, is a figurative expression for complete 
destruction — to be salted is to be destroyed. 

The verb also is found in the passive in Isa 51:6, where Even- 
Shoshan suggests the glosses n^2, pnp}, and TllDn]'^ / 'decay, vanish', 
'to be pulverized', and 'to disintegrate', and the LXX translates with 
eatepecbGri / 'negated', 'taken away', 'destroyed'. 

Could the translation "to destroy" in place of "to salt" illuminate 
the meaning of Mark 9:49? The new translation first must be tested in 
the immediate context. In the preceding verses Mark records Jesus' 
warnings about offending "these little ones" and Jesus' suggestions 
that one would be better off to rid himself of offending parts of his 
body than to be cast into hell, where the fire never goes out and "their 
worm does not die."''* It would fit this context perfectly to translate 
9:49, "everyone [who is sent to hell] will be completely destroyed'" 
(destroyed by fire). 

Undoubtedly the Hebrew expression literally translated in Mark's 
Greek source would have been understood figuratively by its first 
readers; but once the Gospel left the world of Palestinian Judaism 
and its Hebrew constituency, the meaning of the phrase was eventually 
forgotten and has remained ambiguous to most, though not all, 
interpreters throughout the Christian era.'^ 

'nurinn nnan (Jerusalem: tt^iipn •-ans'? rmmx?3n rmann, 1979). 

'VuVyn iixns, nnsi? ]wbb ]v ptyVa DTinyj nu^inn nnnn (London: Trinitarian 
Bible Society, 1968). 

"Avraham Even-Shoshan, mm pVori (Jerusalem: Kiryath Sefer, 1983 [Hebrew]) 

''Reuben Alcalay, The Complete Hebrew-English Dictionary (Jerusalem: Mas- 
sada, 1981) col. 1345. 


'"a hyperbole quoted from Isa 66:24, which evidently refers to an inexhaustible 
supply of dead bodies upon which worms may feed (and thus not die for lack of food). 

"After this article was completed, H. J. de Jonge (private communication, 
February 9, 1985) kindly pointed out that several centuries ago two well-known Dutch 

fields: salted with fire (mark 9:49) 303 


'AX,i^(o, then, is perhaps another example of the way in which 
the Greek lexicon needs to have its glosses expanded at certain points 
to take account of the multilingual situation in first century Palestine, 
a situation also much influenced by the LXX. This Septuagintal 
influence is already recognized by Bauer, Arndt, Gingrich, and 
Danker, who say in the introduction to their lexicon that "as for the 
influence of the LXX, every page of this lexicon shows that it out- 
weighs all other influences on our literature."'^ 

There are a number of references in BAGD to Greek words 
whose semantic range was expanded by this multilingual influence. 
One of these is the word SiKaiog, used by Matthew in the narrative 
about Joseph, who was a "SlKaioc; man" (Matt 1:19). Much better 
sense is made of the passage if one translates "merciful" for SiKaioc; in 
this context, rather than "righteous," and the translation "merciful" is 
suggested by BAGD. This accords well with the range of the Hebrew 
word nplX, which either lies behind the Greek 5lKaiO(; or influenced 
it. This is plausible because npi":! has a total semantic range which is 
broader than that of 5iKaiO(; — a range which includes usages which 
are best glossed in English by the word "merciful."'^ 

There are a number of other words in the Greek lexicon which 
have been glossed too narrowly in English. One must not forget that 
usage defines meaning, and the meaning of a Greek word in the NT is 
what is meant to its writer and first readers. If that meaning was 
influenced by the use of Hebrew/ Aramaic side by side with Greek, 
and by the sometimes rather literalistic rendering of the Hebrew OT 
into Greek in the LXX, then the most accurate glosses of Greek in 
any bilingual dictionary (such as our Greek-English lexicons) will be 
those which take account of these facts. There is yet much progress to 
be made in this area, and that progress is perhaps furthered yet a little 
more by understanding that in Mark 9:49 a Hebrew idiom was 
translated into Greek and is best glossed into English as suggested 

exegetes proposed this very interpretation. These interpreters provide independent con- 
firmation of the plausibility of the solution to this passage suggested in this article, a 
solution which de Jonge calls "plausible indeed." See H. Grotius, Annotationes in 
Lihros Evangeliorum (Amsterdam: Cornelium Blaeu, 1641) 568-70; and J. Clericus, 
Novum Testamentum Domini Nostri Jesu Christi (2d ed.; Frankfurt: Thomas Fritsch, 

'^BAGD, xxi. 

"See Alcalay, The Complete Hebrew- English Dictionary, cols. 2155-56. 


Since Aramaic also has the verb n'7?3, if one prefers to posit 
Aramaic rather than Hebrew originals for the sources behind the 
Greek Synoptics, the interpretation suggested here would probably 
still be valid. '^ Everyone who is cast into hell will not be salted, but 
will be destroyed.'^ 

'^Although Marcus Jastrow {A Dictionary of the Targumim, the Talmud Bibli, 
and Yerushalmi. and the Midrashic Literature [Brooklyn: P. Shalom, 1967] 788) does 
not suggest a gloss like "destroy" for the Aramaic verb, he does list contexts in 
which salt is considered as much an agent of destruction as it is an agent of preserva- 
tion. The standard reference books for Aramaic backgrounds do not discuss this pas- 
sage (cf. Gustaf Dalman, 77?^ Words of Jesus [Edinburgh: Clark, 1902]; Matthew 
Black, An Aramaic Approach to the Gospels and Acts [3d ed.; Oxford: Clarendon, 
1967]; and J. A. Fitzmyer, Essays on the Semitic Background of the New Testament 
[London: Geoffrey Chapman, 1971]). 

"i.e., "punished." This verse does not decide the question recently raised again in 
Fudge's book (see n. 4 above) concerning everlasting punishment or annihilation of the 
wicked. If a>Lia6f|oeTai is a metaphorical term for the more common NT d7t6)iA,u|ai, it 
should probably be understood in the general theological sense of "perish" or "be lost" 
(see LSJ, 207). 

Grace Theological Journal 6.2 (19^5) 305-314 


Gary T. Meadors 

TTie identification of the poor in Luke 6:20 has been disputed. 
Some have seen them as the economically impoverished. However, it 
must be noted that Jesus was specifically addressing his disciples when 
he uttered the beatitude of the poor. Furthermore, Luke 6:20-26 
stands in the literary tradition of an eschatological reversal motif 
found in Psalm 37, Isaiah 61, and in certain Qumran materials. A 
comparison of Luke 6:20-26 with these materials indicates a connec- 
tion between nzcoxoi in Luke 6:20 and the Hebrew term D"*!]!?, which 
had become metaphorical for the pious. This connection is supported 
by the fact that Matthew records the same logion of Jesus as nzcoxoi £v 
nvEDfiazi (5:3). Thus, the term "poor" in Luke 6:20 is used in reference 
to the pious. 


Do the "poor" in Luke's account of the beatitudes refer to the 
economically impoverished whereas the "poor in spirit" in 
Matthew's account refer to the pious? It has become quite common to 
answer such a question in the affirmative and thus to see a dichotomy 
between the two accounts. Indeed, redactional studies have correctly 
observed that Luke's gospel contains more unique material concerning 
the poor and oppressed than the other gospels. However, the reason 
for this has been much debated. This study argues that the "poor" in 
both accounts of the beatitudes refer primarily to the pious. (This is 
not to deny, however, that they may also have been economically 
oppressed.) Thus, in the beatitudes Jesus sought the spiritual reversal 
of life situations. 


NT scholarship today generally recognizes that underlying the 
Matthean Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7)' and the Lukan 

'CL the helpful survey by Warren S. Kissinger, The Sermon on the Mount: A 
History of Interpretation and Bibliography (Metuchen, NJ: Scarecrow, 1975). 


Sermon on the Plain (Luke 6:20-49; cf. 6:17-19) is "one basic piece of 
tradition."^ However, the two recountings of this tradition are not 
identical. Nevertheless, I believe that Matthew and Luke are faithful to 
the ipsissima vox of Jesus (i.e., 'the same voice', meaning that the 
essential meaning is maintained although the very words may not be). 
Although the gospel writers may have altered the words of an 
individual logion or discourse of Jesus to emphasize a particular 
aspect, they retain the essential meaning. For example, the beatitude of 
the poor (Matt 5:3; Luke 6:20) is generally considered to have its 
source in the same logion of Jesus. Its meaning, therefore, in both 
Matthew and Luke should correspond although its use in context may 
reveal individual emphases. 

A Word About Audience Analysis in Context 

It is essential in determining the teaching intent of a passage to 
ascertain to whom it was addressed. Matthew and Luke both indicate 
that the primary recipients of the sermon are the disciples, including 
more than just the twelve (Matt 5:1-2; Luke 6:20fl). It is interesting, 
however, that while Matthew's statement is clear, Luke's is strikingly 
specific. Luke pictures Jesus' delivery of the beatitudes as an eye to eye 
encounter with his disciples and uses the second person rather than the 
third person throughout his beatitude pericope. The statement in Luke 
6:20/) concerning their present possession of the kingdom further 
supports the assertion that Jesus was addressing a restricted audience 
although the curious multitudes were surely present (6:19) and were 
privileged to eavesdrop and to consider what import Jesus' teaching 
might have for themselves. 

To understand Jesus' teaching intent, two additional factors are 
important within the general and immediate context. The resentment 
and deepening rejection of Jesus by the religious leaders are quite clear 
in Luke's context (6:1-11). The conflict would result in harassment 
and eventually murder (6:11). Immediately after revealing the vicious 
intent of the religious leaders, Luke records the beatitude pericope 
which centers upon the theme of conflict, rejection and persecution. 
This conflict and persecution theme is stated in terms of poor and rich 
within an eschatological reversal motif. 

In light of these initial observations of the general and immediate 
context, it may well be that poor and rich primarily serve a literary 
function and that "the expressions rich and poor function within the 

^\. Howard Marshall, The Gospel of Luke: A Commentary on the Greek Text 
(NIGTC; Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1978) 243; cf. Raymond Brown, "The Beatitudes 
According to Luke," in New Testament Essays (Garden City: Doubleday, 1968) 265-66; 
and Joseph A. Fitzmyer, The Gospel According to Luke (I-IX) (AB; Garden City: 
Doubleday, 1981)627. 


Story as metaphorical expressions tor those rejected and accepted 
because of their response to the prophet."^ The poor are those who 
follow Jesus as do the disciples and the rich are the religious leaders 
who oppress those who are followers of God. Jesus' teaching is not in 
response to economic conditions but is a result of the deep felt 
rejection of his teaching and claims. Actual poverty which might exist 
is merely the attendant circumstance of those who follow Jesus. 

Audience analysis leads to at least one initial conclusion which 
must be remembered in the following analysis. The interpreter cannot 
go beyond the intended audience in the identification of the poor in 
Luke 6:20. The poor cannot be the unbelieving hungry 'of the Third 
World. Such assertions border on universalism in light of Luke 6:20/).'* 
As L Howard Marshall has observed, 

the description of them as being persecuted for the sake of the Son of 
Man shows that the thought is not simply of those who are literally poor 
and needy, nor of all such poor people, but of those who are disciples of 
Jesus and hence occupy a pitiable position in the eyes of the world. Their 
present need will be met by God's provision in the future. The effect of 
the beatitudes is thus both to comfort men who suffer for being disciples 
and to invite men to become disciples and find that their needs are met 
by God.' 

The Presence of Isaiah 61 in Luke 6:20 

In his study of Matt 5:3-5, David Flusser asserts that "the first 
three beatitudes as a whole depend on Isa. Ixi, 1-2."'' The Lukan 
pericope also evidences the influence of Isaiah 61. Linguistically, the 
presence of tttcoxoi (Luke 6:20h; cf. Isa 61:1a), hunger (Luke 6:21^; cf. 
Isa 61:5, 6), and mournfulness as implied in weeping (Luke 6:21/); cf. 
Isa 6\:\b, "brokenhearted"; 61:26; 61:3; 61:7) reflect Isaiah.^ Theo- 
logically, the motifs of eschatological release (Jubilee) and reversal are 
dominant in both Isaiah and Luke.^ 

Luke T. Johnson, The Literary Function of Possessions in Luke- Acts (Missoula: 
Scholars, 1977) 140. 

■"Cf. Ron Sider, "An Evangelical Theology of Liberation," in Perspectives on 
Evangelical Theology, eds. Kenneth S. Kantzer and S. N. Gundry (Grand Rapids: 
Baker, 1979) 130-32. 

'Marshall, The Gospel of Luke, 246. 

^David Flusser, "Blessed Are the Poor in Spirit," lEJ 10 (1960) 9; cf. Ernest Best, 
"Mauhew v. 3," NTS 7 (1961) 255-58. 

Asher Finkel, "Jesus' Sermon at Nazareth (Luk. 4, 16-30)," in Abraham Unser 
Vater: Juden und Christen in Gesprach uher die Bihel. Festschrift fiir Otto Michel 
(Leiden: Brill, 1963) 1 13; and Asher Finkel, The Pharisees and the Teacher of Nazareth 
(Leiden: Brill, 1964) 156-58. 

^Robert B. Sloan, The Favorable Year of the Lord: A Study of Jubilary Theology 
in the Gospel of Luke (Austin: Schola, 1977) 123-27. 


What would be the significance of the influence of Isaiah 61 on the 
Lukan beatitude? Assuming Jesus' audience was familiar with Isaiah 61 
and its promises, the catchwords, such as D"'1317 or Tixtoxoi, and the 
eschatological themes "would have been recognized as having more 
than economic significance."^ My earlier study on the vocabulary of 
the poor in the OT, Qumran, and the first century pointed out that the 
poor motif had historically taken on religious nuances particularly as 
evidenced in Isaiah and the Psalms.'" Jesus' audience was Jewish, not 
the twentieth century Western world. The significance of his teaching 
must be reconstructed in terms of his first century audience. F. C. 
Grant's analysis of the mentality of the first century pious Jew in light 
of the Magnificat and the beatitudes makes the following observation: 

If we may judge from the first two chapters of the Gospel of St. Luke, 
assuming that we have here, at the very least, an authentic example of 
first-century Jewish piety and a suggestion of the atmosphere of our 
Lord's boyhood, it would seem probable that those among whom He 
grew to manhood were not political enthusiasts, but pious, humble 
devotees of the ancestral religion. The Messianic hope, as they cherished 
it, was conceived in its more transcendent and less political form: pacific, 
priestly, traditional, and non-militaristic. . . . [The Magnificat] was the 
hope of 'the poor in the land', for whom their poverty had come to have 
a religious value since they hoped for salvation through none save God. 
It was a confidence nourished by the Psalms, (as in Psalm xxxvii), 'the 
poor' and 'the humble' {aniim and anawim) become almost inter- 
changeable terms." 

The question of economic status is not the issue in Isaiah nor in 
Luke. The emphasis is upon following God and for the faithful 
Israelite and for the disciples of Jesus in the present era it will often 
resuh in being oppressed. 


The Matthean and Lukan Sermons are quite divergent in form 
and some general comparative observations would be helpful before 
considering the beatitude concerning the poor. Matthew's version 
(chaps. 5-7; 109 verses) is over three times longer than Luke's account 
(6:20-49; 30 verses). However, sayings recorded as part of the Sermon 

'Thomas Hoyt, The Poor in Luke-Acts (Ann Arbor: University Microfilms, 
1975) 115. 

'"Gary T. Meadors, "The Poor in Luke's Gospel" (unpublished Th.D. dissertation; 
Winona Lake, IN: Grace Theological Seminary, 1983); cf. Raymond Brown, The Birth 
of the Messiah (Garden City: Doubleday, 1977) 350-51. 

"F. C. Grant, The Economic Background of the Gospels (New York: Russell & 
Russell, reprint 1973) 119-20. 


on the Mount in Matthew are found elsewhere in Luke (cf., e.g.. Matt 
5:13 with Luke 14:34-35; Matt 5:14-16 with Luke8:16and ll:33;and 
Matt 5:17-20 with Luke 16:16-17)." 

There are also many similarities between Matthew and Luke. The 
sermons are both addressed to Jesus' disciples in proximity to a 
mountain. They both begin with a beatitude pericope and end with an 
exhortation to receive God's truth as communicated by the words of 
Christ. The same sequence is followed by both even though Luke omits 
much material. Many other similarities and dissimilarities have been 
delineated in the literature on the sermons but it is not necessary to 
repeat them in the present discussion.'^ 

The beatitude of the poor is recorded by Matthew and Luke as 

Matt 5:3 Luke 6:20ft 

MaKdpioi oi nxwxoi tm Trveu^axi, MaKotpioi oi 71x0)701, 

6x1 auxwv eoxiv r\ PaaiXeia xmv 6x1 u^iexepa eaxiv x] Paai>^8ia 

oupavcov. xoC BeoO. 

Line two in each is equivalent in word order but with some rather 
interesting differences. Matthew uses the third personal pronoun 
auTOJv while Luke uses the second person possessive pronoun uiaeiepa. 
Luke's use of the second person gives his beatitude a more personal 
flavor.'* Matthew's use of oupavtov rather than OeoO with (3aaiA.eia is 
probably a metonymy since heaven is the place of God's abode. 

The most discussed aspect of the beatitude of the poor, however, 
has to do with the dative of relation xcb Trveupaxi/ 'spirit' in line one. 
Unless Jesus gave the same basic logion in the two different forms, 
then either one or the other is more original. Jeremias has suggested 
that the brevity of Luke's Sermon indicates that it represents the earlier 
form.'^ Flusser, however, asserts that Matthew has faithfully preserved 
the original logion and Luke abbreviated it without altering its 
meaning.'^ F. C. Grant long ago suggested a mediating position. He 
wrote, "it is probably that the Lukan version is more accurate, 
verbally; but it must be understood in a more Matthaean spirit. 'Poor,' 

'^See Kurt Aland, Synopsis Quattuor Evangeliorum (revised ed.; Stuttgart: Wurt- 
tembergische Bibelanstalt, 1967) in. loc. 

"Cf. Hoyt, The Poor in Luke- Acts, 99-102; Fitzmyer, Luke (I-IX), 627-29; and 
C. H, Dodd, "The Beatitudes: A Form-Critical Study," in More New Testament Studies 
(Manchester: Manchester University, 1968) 1-10. 

'''Robert Gundry, Matthew: A Commentary on His Literary and Theological Art 
(Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1982) 68. Gundry asserts that in the OT beatitudes the 3rd 
person is used more than the 2nd. 

"Joachim Jeremias, The Sermon on the Mount (London: Athlone, 1961) 17. 

'^Flusser, "Blessed are the Poor in Spirit," 11. 


e.g., meant more than economically dependent; the word had a 
religious connotation, which Matthew's elucidation, 'poor in spirit', 
more accurately represents."'^ 

Flusser's assertion is based primarily on the conflation of Isa 61:1 
and 66:2 in the Dead Sea Scrolls (IQM xiv. 7). The result of his 
comparisons render "'''337 mi, mn 'XDT D'liS? and D'^Ji? as interchangeable 
and synonymous expressions. Consequently, tttcdxoc; and Kxco^oq tco 
7iV8U|iaTi would be the interchangeable Greek equivalents.'* W. D. 
Davies makes a similar observation on the basis of Qumran: 

The Lucan 'poor' need not be regarded as necessarily more primitive than 
the Matthaean 'poor in spirit'. But it is still more likely that Matthew 
made the term 'the poor' more precise by the addition of 'in spirit' than 
that Luke deleted the latter, although, as we indicated in the text, 'the 
poor' and 'the poor in spirit' have the same connotation.'^ 

The conclusion to the whole matter, if one is faithful to the 
religious sitz im lehen of pietistic Judaism, is that regardless of the 
ipsissima verba (the actual words) of Jesus, the ipsissima vox is the 
same. The tttcoxoi are the Anawim.^° In the case of the Sermon the 
TtToxoi are the disciples as a class of followers. In Luke 6:20 it 
designates a group; it does not describe a social state of being. A social 
state of being may be attendant (cf. Luke 6:21-22), but it is not the 
focus of the term nxwxoi. If it were merely a social state of being, then 
all of those who are in such a state would 'own' the kingdom (6:20c). 
This would be soteriological universalism. Guthrie rightly cautions on 
this point, "since possession of the kingdom of God is the consequence 
of this 'poverty', it seems to suggest a spiritual element, for the 
'kingdom' cannot be understood in any other way."^' 


The unique theme which is present in Luke's but not in Matthew's 
beatitude pericope is the theme of reversal. This theme is present 
elsewhere in Luke in the Magnificat (1:46-56), the parable of Lazarus 
and Dives (16:19-31), and in the 'first shall be last' logion (13:30; 
cf. 9:48; 14:11; 18:14). This theme of reversal of conditions may 

"Grant, Economic Background, 118, n. 1. 

'*F!usser, "Blessed are the Poor in Spirit," 1-13; cf. E. Bammel, "Tttcaxoc;," TDNT6 
(1968) 896-92, W. F. Albright and C. S. Mann, Matthew (AB; New York: Doubleday, 

W. D. Davies, The Setting of the Sermon on the Mount (Cambridge: Cambridge 
University, 1964) 251, n. 2. 

Anawim is a transliteration of the Hebrew term for poor. It has become a term to 
refer to the class of pious Jews. 

^'Donald Guthrie, New Testament Theology: A Thematic Study (Downers Grove: 
InterVarsity, 1981)900. 


be observed in the OT in Psalm 37 and Isaiah 61. The reversal 
is often stated in an antithetic formulation, such as rich/ poor or 
wicked /righteous. 

A similar reversal was known in the Classical Greek world as a 
nepiKExeia.^^ The reversal of human fortune was a dominant motif in 
Attic drama and was discussed as a reversal of roles in philosophic 
literature. "^^ The TrepiTteieia motif in Scripture has a particularly moral 
overtone. It is also a divine reversal which is apocalyptic in nature. The 
reversal comes by the action of God not the revolutionary efforts of the 
proletariat. C. H. Dodd clearly describes the ethical nature of the 
Lukan nepinexeia: 

On the face of it, the Lucan pericope might appear to contemplate a 
catastrophic revolution in which the proletariate achieves a signal 
success at the expense of the privileged class. As such, it would fit into a 
contemporary pattern of thought in the Hellenistic world. But it is clear 
that it is a sublimated or 'etherialized' kind of TrepiTreieia that is here in 
view: the reward is ev oupavw, and that clause conditions all the rest. If 
the parable of Dives and Lazarus is allowed as an illustration, the 
'etherialized' character of the reversal of conditions is emphasized.''' 

The structure of Luke 6:20-26 is best seen by comparing the four 
'couplets'.'^ The antithetical parallelism is not formaP^ but it is 
conceptually present. Reveral motifs are by nature dichotomous. 

20. Blessed are ye poor: for yours 24. But woe unto you that are 
is the kingdom of God. rich! for ye have received your 


21. Blessed are ye that hunger now: 25. Woe unto you, ye that are full 
for ye shall be filled. now! for ye shall hunger. 

Blessed are ye that weep now: Woe unto you, ye that laugh 

for ye shall laugh. now! for ye shall mourn and 


22. Blessed are ye, when men shall 26. Woe unto you, when all men 
hate you, and when they shall shall speak well of you. for in 
separate you from their company, the same manner did their 
and reproach you, and cast fathers to the false prophets, 
out your name as evil, for the 

Son of man's sake. 

"Cf. Arnold J. Toynbee, A Study of History (London: Oxford University, 1939) 

"ibid., 246. 

^"Dodd, "The Beatitudes," 5-6. 

"The following translation is from the American Standard Version (1901). 

"Fitzmyer, Luke (I- IX), 636. 


The first question in determining significance is to ascertain to 
whom the blessings and woes are spoken. Luke 6:20a clearly presents 
the primary audience as a group of disciples within eye contact of 
Jesus. The blessings are appropriate for this group, but the woes are 
incompatible for them except as a warning not to neglect their 
commitment (Heb 2:1-4). Therefore, who is the "you" in the woe 
section? They must be the perimeter crowd of privileged eavesdroppers. 
Who in that crowd would fit the description given? The key lies at the 
front door in Luke 6: 1 - 10." Jesus had just completed several Sabbath 
controversies with the Pharisees and Scribes. This confrontation ended 
in a deepening rift between Jesus and the contemporary leaders of 
Judaism (Luke 6:11). This division will broaden as Luke's story 
progresses (cf. Luke 8; 1 1:14-13:9). The language of the woe section 
applies well to this group. Luke 6:26 is especially applicable as will be 
observed below. 

A second area which confronts the reader in Luke 6:20-26 
involves the nature of the language used in the pericope. The temporal 
implications are indicated by the contrasting use of vOv and the future 
tense in 6:20-21; 24-25. The future aspect is further indicated by "that 
day" and "in heaven" in 6:23. The language of the pericope gives no 
hope for reversal in the present age. At this point it is obviously not a 
call to revolution but to hopeful resignation. It is divine realism for the 
present and divine optimism for the future. 

The language is also contrastive. It utilizes poetic extremes: 
hunger and full, weep and laugh, hate and admire, and poor and rich. 
It is thoroughly Semitic. Psalm 37 is an OT example (cf. Isa 61:1-3 
also) of the reversal of the poor and rich under the rubric of 
wicked /evil and righteous. The language in reversal genre is categor- 
ically symbolic. Poor and rich in Luke 6 are first of all categorical. The 
social situation behind the language is real but not foundational. The 
close of the sermon in Luke 6:46-49 illustrates this principle well from 
a different perspective. The houses and their fate are symbolic of one's 
response to truth. 

The symbolism of certain aspects of the language in 6:20-26 is 
well illustrated by the expressions "hunger," "mourn," and "weep" in 
6:25. In the eschatological reversal, in what sense will the presently 
satisfied group experience lack? Will they be huddled off into a corner 
without provisions? No. Rather the reversal initiates their existence in 
hell in the eternal state. They are illustrated by Dives in Luke 16, 
another Lukan reversal passage. Since we may safely assume that 

"Cf. the implication in the closing of the Sermon in 6:46-49 to the fate of the 
religious status quo. 


mealtimes do not exist in the eternal state, the language is symbolic of 
a real experience. ^^ 

The conclusions to the blessings (6:22, 23) and woes (6:26) sections 
provide crucial information concerning the intended significance of 
this pericope. The theme which permeates these concluding verses and 
consequently the whole unit may be summarized by the word "identi- 
fication." The devout followers are clearly identified with their Lord as 
the eveKtt phrase indicates, being better translated "because of the Son 
of Man" (NIV). It is because of their identification with Christ that 
they suffer in the present age. If 6vo|ia refers to the name which 
signifies them as followers, whatever that name of identification may 
be (cf. James 2:7; 1 Pet 4:14), rather than signifying their personal 
reputation, the point of identification is strengthened.^^ 

But with whom are those of 6:26 to be identified? The key lies with 
the phrase oi naxepec, auxcov. This phrase is doubly emphatic. It is 
attributive and it is placed at the end of each section. One wonders if 
Jesus' eyes did not glance away and gaze at the religious leaders for a 
moment. The naxepec, theme recurs in Luke 11:47-48, where Jesus 
reveals the deeds of the Pharisees' forefathers. Luke 1 1 falls within a 
lengthy polemic between Jesus and the religious leaders (1 1:14-13:9) 
and contains six woes upon the Pharisees. 

Not only is oi naxtpEC, auxcbv emphatic, it is also unique to Luke's 
structure (cf. Matt 5:12),^^ thus emphasizing further the crucial point 
of identification within the Lukan context. Furthermore, Luke 6:26 
uniquely emphasizes the "false prophets" in contradistinction to 
Matthew, who only refers to the godly prophets. The contrasting 
symbolism of identification, therefore, may be that "just as the 
persecuted disciples are the representatives of the true Prophets, so the 
wealthy hierarchy whom all men flatter are the representatives of the 
false (Jer v. 31; Comp. xxiii. 17; Isa xxx. 10; Mic. ii. 11)."^' This 
hierarchy within the context of Luke's gospel is constituted by the 
Pharisees and their crowd. 


The teaching intent of Luke 6:20-26 centers in the theme of 
identification with God's messenger and program. Such identification 

^*This language may be reminiscent of the future banquet as seen in Luke 14:12-24. 
"Marshall, TTie Gospel of Luke, 253. 
^"Fitzmyer, Luke (l-IX), 635. 

^'Alfred Plummer, A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Gospel According 
to St. Luke (ICC; Edinburgh: Clark, 1896) 183. 


will entail persecution, including physical, mental, and social ramifica- 
tions. But the transitory nature of life and its problems are not to be 
compared to the eschatological hope (6:23). Conversely, to refuse to 
identify with God's program and pursue worldly ambition has disastrous 
consequences. These consequences are intensified when they relate to 
oppressing God's people and program. The religious leadership of 
Judaism, whether ancient or contemporary, was perennially guilty of 
not recognizing and following God's true prophets. This confrontation 
in the earthly ministry of Jesus led to a fiery polemic in Luke's gospel 
between Jesus and the religious leaders, a polemic which plagued the 
apostles after Jesus was gone as the book of Acts so clearly portrays. 
The greater context of Luke 6 seems to imply that the unique structure 
of Luke's beatitude pericope may well be an early expression of this 
polemic via the acceptance and rejection motif. 

The signification of tttcoxoI in Luke 6:20 is similar to that of a 
developing usage of D"'13y in the Psalms, Isaiah, and Qumran. It 
symbolically relates to religious attitude. Matthew makes this quite 
clear by the emphasis on 8V 7iv8U|iaTi, and the sense of Luke's simple 
TtTco^oi was the same in the ears of his auditors. On the other hand, 
social and economic oppression are attendant to a faith commitment. 
Jesus wanted his followers to know that they were getting into a 
situation of oppression for the duration of their earthly sojourn; he was 
not instructing them on how to get out of oppression. The only way 
out is up (cf. sv oupavw in Luke 6:23).^' To assert that Luke's pericope 
is merely "an essay on social concern"" is to miss the point. 

"This solution is the essence of the reversal motif throughout its usage. Cf. Bammel, 
"7tT(ox6(;," 6. 893, 895, 898, 906, 910. 

"Grant Osborne, "Luke: Theologian of Social Concern," TJl (1978) 136. 

Grace Theological Journal 6.2 (1985) 3 1 5-327 


David W. Miller 

The uniqueness of NT church eldership is a reason for the view 
that the NT pattern of eldership is binding on today's churches. NT 
eldership is not merely a cultural adaptation. NT eldership is distinct 
from eldership in Hellenistic societies and Jewish organizations. Par- 
ticularly, differences can be shown between eldership in the Jewish 
synagogue and the NT church eldership. 


THE origin of the NT church eldership is a study deserving great 
attention due to its implications for modern church polity. The 
central question is this, did the NT church adopt a previously existing 
model of eldership, or was the office redefined in qualification and 
function in NT church practice? If the NT church merely borrowed 
the whole idea of KpsaPutepoi / 'elders' from previous religious or 
political societies, then the organization of the NT church is not 
unique and the whole idea of a basic normative church government 
structure is less defensible. If the NT church simply borrowed from its 
immediate, and most culturally acceptable governance structures, then 
one could argue that a church is free to do the same today. Church 
polity would then become an area of Christian liberty where the NT 
pattern of eldership would not be binding. However, if NT church 
eldership was unique, not a copy of a cultural model, then NT elder- 
ship becomes more significant for the church today. Church eldership 
would not be a mere cultural adaptation, but a unique, divinely 
instituted organization, normative for believers no matter what the 
prevailing cultural views on governance would be. 

In order to prove the uniqueness of the NT church eldership, one 
must show that NT church eldership was distinct from other uses 
of TtpeaPuxepoi in its day. There are two general categories of pos- 
sible models of eldership which the NT church could have copied: 
(1) Hellenistic organizations and/or (2) Jewish organizations. 



Some believe that NT church eldership was copied from a Greek 
model. Hicks claims that npeo^mepoi "had been commonly employed 
before [its Jewish and Christian usage] in a precisely analogous sense 
in Graeco-Roman civic life."' However, upon closer examination of 
the evidence, it seems the phrase "precisely analogous" is an over- 
statement. There simply is not enough evidence of the qualifications 
and duties of the npeo^mepoi of Greek societies to make a compari- 
son. Yet even with the scanty information, obvious differences are 
evident. The Alexandrian guild of six millers called TrpeaPoispoi had 
an iepeug / 'priest', at its head,'^ while NT eldership had no such 
iepeug. The Constitution of Sparta denotes a npEo^vc, as a political 
title for the president of a college.^ This single npeo^vc, is in contrast 
to the strong evidence for a plurality of elders in each NT church 
(Acts 15:4; 20:17; 21:18; Phil 1:1; and Jas5:14). The five or six 
priests of the Temple of Socnopaios (or Socnopaeus) were called 
TtpeaPuiepoi. These presbyter-priests were not selected on the basis 
of age, because their ages range from thirty upwards.'* Other than the 
fact that these priests were religious leaders whose selection was not 
made on the basis of age (this is a notable exception to the rule that 
npec^mepoc, in other Hellenistic usages includes the idea of older 
age), there is little else that is parallel with NT church eldership. The 
presbyter-priests' investigation of the hair length and dress of a brother 
priest as qualifications for eldership is much more trivial than the char- 
acter qualifications established for the NT church elder (1 Tim 3:1-7; 
Titus 1:5-9).^ Furthermore, since the Socnopaios Temple document 
is dated about a.d. 160,^ it cannot be considered as a model for NT 
eldership which was established more than a century earlier. In fact, 
with the exception of two Egyptian documents (the presbyter-priests 
of Socnopaios and a local government officer), the Hellenistic under- 
standing of the term TcpsopOxepoi is a reference to "older men," not 
to an office. The term npeG^mepoc, does not become a title for the 
member of the yEpouoia / 'Council', of the Hellenistic cities until the 
middle of the second century a.d.^ Having considered the evidence, it 
is safest to place no direct link between the office of elder in the NT 
church and the elder of any Hellenistic civil or religious organization. 

'James Hope Moulton and George Milligan, The Vocabulary of the Greek New 
Testament (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1976), 535. 

^G. Bornkamm, "npeoPuTepoc;," TD NT 6 i\96S) 653. 



'Moulton and Milligan, Vocabulary, 535. 


'A. E. Harvey, "Elders," JTS 25 (1974) 320. 

miller: new testament church eldership 317 

the jewish organizations 

The eldership of NT churches is regarded by most scholars to be 
borrowed directly from the Jews. Lightfoot represents many when he 
states, "the name and office of the presbyter [elder] is essentially 
Jewish."^ There are three possible Jewish sources of the eldership: 
(1) the OT elder, (2) the Sanhedrin elder, and (3) the synagogue 
elder. Each will be examined to see if a pattern for the NT church 
eldership is set. 

The OT Elder 

The elders of the days of Moses and Joshua (fpT / 'old', Exod 3:16, 
etc.) are described as "representatives of the whole people, and they 
are this only in the sense of mere representation, not with any initiative 
or governing power, but along with and under leading figures like 
Moses and Joshua."^ These OT elders were in contrast to NT church 
elders who were to rule and teach the Word (1 Tim 5:17). NT elders 
were not mere representatives of the people, answering to the dictates 
of one man, such as Moses. The elders of Israel who met for decision- 
making later came to be leading men from the tribes or districts. 
These elders were so powerful that they were able to demand a king 
(1 Sam 8:4). They continued to exert great influence during the reigns 
of Saul, David, and Solomon. However, the elders continued to be 
representatives of the people. Their function and qualifications were 
vastly different from those of the NT church elder in a local congrega- 
tion. During the exile these elders became an aristocracy. Hereditary 
dignity and nobility determined membership among the elders."' In 
no way could NT church eldership be construed to be an aristocracy. 
A. E. Harvey properly concludes that there was no "institution in Old 
Testament times which could be regarded as the forerunner of the . . . 
Christian presbyterate."'' 

The Sanhedrin 

Every important city with a significant Jewish population during 
NT times had a court known as a Sanhedrin comprised of twenty- 
three elders. The highest court known as the Great Sanhedrin met in 
Jerusalem, and was comprised of seventy or seventy-one members.'^ 

*J. B. Lightfoot, St. Paul's Epistle to the Philippians (reprint; Grand Rapids: 
Zondervan, 1971) 191. 

'Bornkamm, "npeaPuTepoi;," 6. 655. 

'°lbid., 6. 658. 

"Harvey, "Elders," 320. 

'^Simon Cohen, "Sanhedrin," Wycliffe Bible Encyclopedia (1975) 2. 1520. 


According to tradition, the seventy elders traced their origin to Moses' 
seventy elders in Nurn 11:16. The extra one was probably added to 
make sure there was never a tie in any decision. 
Douglas further explains: 

In New Testament times the Great Sanhedrin in Jerusalem com- 
prised the high priests (that is the acting high priest and those who had 
been high priest [5/V]), members of the privileged families from which 
the high priests were taken, the elders (tribal and family heads of the 
people and the priesthood), and the scribes, that is, the legal experts. 
The whole comprised both Sadducees and Pharisees.'^ 

However, sometimes the scribes alone were called elders (Matt 15:2; 
Mark 7:5 and Acts 4:5-8). Luke refers to the entire Sanhedrin as 
elders (Luke 22:66). This threefold (priests, scribes and elders), two- 
fold (rulers and elders, or chief priests and elders), and single (council 
of elders) designation of the Great Sanhedrin is confusing, and forces 
an overlapping definition of the term elder. Like the Great Sanhedrin, 
each local Sanhedrin's primary duty was judicial — interpreting the 
law and passing out sentences to offenders.'"* However, the function 
of each Sanhedrin as a court does not find a clear counterpart in the 
function of NT church eldership. Discipline in the local church is 
given to the spiritual (Gal 6:1-2), but such are not specified as elders. 
In fact, the whole church seems to have some responsibility in disci- 
pline (Matt 18:15-17 and 1 Cor 5:1-13). While NT eldership did 
decide on some doctrinal matters (Acts 15), the NT never gives it the 
responsibilities of a court by way of example or specified duties. 
There are too many major differences between the Sanhedrin eldership 
and the NT local church elder to claim the former provided the 
pattern for the latter. Harvey astutely concludes: 

There would be grave difficulties in regarding the Sanhedrin as a 
whole as the prototype of the Christian presbyterate. The word "elders" 
when applied to the Sanhedrin was either a technical name for a specific 
class of aristocratic laymen, or was a general word with strong Pharisaic 
overtones, which was used to refer to scribes both inside and outside 
the Sanhedrin. In neither case is there any easy analogy with Christian 

The Synagogue 

Lightfoot carefully presents a classic case for the view that NT 
church eldership came directly from the synagogue organization. He 

"J. A. Thompson, "Sanhedrin," The New Bible Dictionary, (^9(>2) 1 143. 
"M. H. Shepherd, Jr., "Elders in the New Testament," IDB (\962) 2. 73. 
'^Harvey, "Elders," 323-24. 

miller: new testament church eldership 319 

As soon as the expansion of the church rendered some organization 
necessary, it would form a "synagogue" of its own. The Christian con- 
gregations in Palestine long continued to be designated by this name, 
though the term "ecclesia" took its place from the very first in heathen 
countries. With the synagogue itself, they would naturally, if not neces- 
sarily, adapt the normal government of a synagogue, and a body of 
elders or presbyters would be chosen to direct the religious worship 
and partly also to watch over the temporal well-being of society.'^ 

Edward D. Morris concurs with this popular theory as he explains: 

It still is reasonable to presume that the churches formed among Jewish 
converts would spontaneously assume the structure of the synagogue, 
and would create offices which would be parallel to those found wher- 
ever a Jewish congregation was organized. That a body of official 
persons called elders, and elders of the people, and charged with the 
oversight of the spiritual interests of the synagogue, existed universally 
in the age of Christ; and that both He and His disciples were familiar 
with this arrangement, and recognized its historic validity and its 
religious value, as appears from various references, will not be ques- 
tioned. It would naturally follow, under these conditions, that the 
Jewish converts at Jerusalem, in the absence of any divine instructions 
to the contrary, would organize themselves into what may be termed a 
Christian synagogue (James 2:2) with its presbytery or central group of 
elders, to whom, in conjunction with the apostles, the care of the 
organization should be entrusted.'^ 

The Church and Synagogue Contrasted 

According to Luke 7:3 the leaders of the synagogue were desig- 
nated as elders, but it can be shown that their responsibilities differed 
greatly from those of NT church elders. Before considering the con- 
trasting roles of synagogue elders and church elders, the various 
officers of the synagogue need to be discussed. 

The highest officer in the synagogue was the ctpxiauvdycoyoc; / 
'ruler of the synagogue'. His responsibilities as president were to con- 
duct the worship services and delegate various responsibilities (such 
as who would read the Scripture and who would pray). He also was 
responsible for the construction and maintenance of the building 
(many sources show he financed the erection and upkeep!). For all of 
his responsibilities, he was highly esteemed.'^ It is uncertain whether 
or not there was only one president. Most of the evidence suggests 

Lightfoot, Philippians, 192. 
'^Edward D. Morris, Ecclesiology: A Treatise on the Church and the Kingdom of 
God on Earth (Philadelphia: Westminster, 1885) 139-40. 
"W. Schrage, "ApxiauvdYuyoq," TDNTl (1971) 845. 


there was only one for each synagogue. But Acts 13:15 speaks of their 
plurality (apxicyuvdycoyoi) in one synagogue (13:14). 

Lenski calls these apxicjuvdycoyoi "managers" and even equates 
them with the term "elders," but adds "one of these served as chairman 
or head of the others."'^ There is evidence from an inscription in 
Apamaea that a synagogue had three dpxiaovdycoyoi.^" Mark 5:22 is 
also a passage which some think indicates a plurality of synagogue 
rulers. However, the plural in Mark 5:22 most likely is a reference to 
the category, not the number per synagogue.^' Schrage believes the 
plurality of dpxicruvdytoyoi has a "paucity of sources" (even in the 
NT only Acts 13:15 and Mark 5:22 use the plural dpxicruvdycoyoi; the 
other seven references are singular). He concludes that "each syna- 
gogue had only one dpxiouvdywyoc;."'^ But even if there were rare 
instances of a plurality of dpxicjuvdycoyoi, there is no necessary carry- 
over of a dpxiauvdywyoc; (or an dpxieKK?ir|aia / 'ruler of the church'!) 
to the NT church. 

The synagogue president had a paid assistant (the dpxicJDvdyco- 
yoc; was not paid) known as the hazzan or "attendant" (i)7rr|p8tr|(;, 
Luke 4:20). He was responsible for the furniture and gave special 
attention to the scrolls. He announced the start and end of the 
Sabbath day by blowing a trumpet. He, in some cases, was even the 
schoolmaster for the young in the synagogue school. He carried out 
the sentence of punishment passed by the elders. ^^ History has shown 
many futile attempts to correlate the attendant with a NT church 
official. Some connect the Hebrew word n^^n / 'to see' with hazzan and 
equate him with the office of the church bishop {tnicsKonoc, / 'over- 
seer').''* However, there is no functional correspondence between the 
U7rr|peTr|(; and the eTrioKOTcog. The two terms are almost opposites! 

In the seventeenth century, the synagogue hazzan was equated 
with the deacon of the church." However, the biblical and extra- 
biblical sources show that the hazzan (i)7rr|p8Tr|(;) is never called a 
SidKovog.^^ Furthermore, the NT never connects the title of uTtripeiric; 
with the church office of deacon (as it connects 8TtioK07ro(; with 
TipeapuTepoc;). Finally, because the hazzan cared for the synagogue, 
he has been best compared with the modern church custodian. ^^ 

"Richard C. H. Lenski, The Interpretation of the Acts of the Apostles (Min- 
neapolis: Augsburg, 1934) 513. 

^°L Sonne, "Synagogue," IDB (1962) 4. 489. 

^'Schrage, '"ApxiouvdycDyog," 7. 844. 

"Ibid., 7. 846-47. 

"Cohen, "Sanhedrin," 2. 1642. 

^""Sonne, "Synagogue," 4. 489. 


"H. Beyer, "Aiokovoc;," TDNTld^bA) 91. 

^'Sonne, "Synagogue," 4. 489. 

miller: new testament church eldership 321 

Three other synagogue officers not mentioned in the NT are 
(1) the collectors of alms (npnii'X^J); (2) the messenger; and (3) the 
herald of Shema. The collectors of alms did as the title suggests and 
had no connection with the conducting of synagogue worship like the 
apxicTuvdywyoc; and his assistant.^* The messenger recited prayers 
aloud and the congregation followed his lead. It seems that eventually 
the hazzan took over the messenger's role.^^ Preceding the prayers of 
the messenger, the herald of Shema led the congregation in responsive 
Scripture reading or antiphonal reading/" 

The elders of the synagogue were left with administrative and 
disciplinary functions. It may be questionable even to call the elders 
of the Jewish community synagogue officers.^' The elders had special 
seats of honor in the synagogue but were not responsible for the 
worship. ^^ Edwin Hatch states: 

With worship and with teaching the elders appear to have no 
direct concern. For those purposes, so far as they required officers, 
another set of officers existed. In other words the same community 
met, probably in the same place in two capacities and with double 
organization. On the Sabbath there was an assembly presided over by 
the ctpxiouvdYOOYO^ or apxiouvdycoYoi for the purpose of prayer and 
reading of the Scriptures and exhortation: on two days of the week 
there was an assembly presided over by the y£pouaiapxr|(; or dp^ovxeg 

A careful study of the organization of the synagogue reveals a 
structure different from that of the NT church. The NT church pre- 
sents no clear counterpart to the synagogue office of president, his 
paid assistant, alms collectors (which may relate to ushers of today, 
but not to any such NT position), the messenger, or the herald of 
Shema. Furthermore, the NT church elders differ greatly from the 
synagogue elders. The NT church elders are encouraged to rule and 
to teach (I Tim 5:17) and must be able to teach to qualify for the 
position (I Tim 3:2). If the synagogue set the pattern for the NT 
church organization, then one cannot explain the origin of deacons 
(plural) in the church. This office is totally foreign to the synagogue. 
Even Lightfoot admits the diaconate was an "entirely new creation."^" 

^*Beyer, "AiotKovoq," 2. 91. 

"Sonne, "Synagogue," 4. 490. 


^'ibid. Sonne does not even mention elders in his discussion of the officers of the 

"Shepherd, "Elders," 2. 73. 

"Edwin Hatch, The Organization of the Early Christian Churches (Oxford: 
Rivingtons, 1881)59. 

"Lightfoot, Philippians, 191. 


The NT local church has a simple two-level organizational structure 
of a plurality of elders and a plurality of deacons (Phil 1:1). The 
synagogue has the monarchical president who is responsible for wor- 
ship. This is an "eldership" that is not responsible for anything other 
than judicial matters of the Jewish community. The great organi- 
zational differences between the synagogue and the NT church (shown 
in chart 1) invalidate the claim that the former gave birth to the 

Beyer rightly deduces: 

Familiar forms of synagogue and Pharisaic order were no doubt before 
the eyes of the first Christians. But their community, based on the great 
commission to preach the Gospel and to live according to it in the most 
inward of all societies, was something new and distinctive, so that for 
the fulfillment of its mission new offices had to be created, or to 
develop out of the matter itself." 

The Elders of Acts 11:30 

According to Donald L. Norbie, the eldership is bluntly men- 
tioned without any explanation in Acts 11:30 because its origin is due 
to the synagogue counterpart. On the other hand, the institution of 
the diaconate is given a lengthy explanation (Acts 6:1-7) because the 
synagogue had no such office. ^^ 

On the surface this sounds like a convincing argument for close 
ties between NT church eldership and the synagogue. But there are 
problems with this theory. First, the passage in Acts 6 does not 
specifically mention an office of deacon, but rather a ministry of 
serving tables (SiaKoveiv Tpans^aic;). Andre Lemaire claims the seven 
in Acts 6 have "nothing to do with the deacons."" 

Beyer explains: 

Appeal is frequently made to Acts 6 in explanation of the rise of 
the diaconate, though the term SidKovog is not actually used. On this 
view, the deacons undertake practical service as distinct from the 
ministry of the Word. It is to be noted, however, that the Seven are set 
alongside the Twelve as representatives of the Hellenists, and that they 
take their place with the evangelists and apostles in disputing, preaching 
and baptizing. This fact shows that the origin of the diaconate is not to 
be found in Acts 6.^* 

"H. Beyer, '"ETtioKeTtTonai," TDNT2 (1964) 619. 

"Donald L. Norbie, New Testament Church Organization (Chicago: Christian 
Libraries, 1955) 36-37. 

"Andre Lemaire, "From Services to Ministries: 'Diakoniai' in the First Two 
Centuries," Office and Ministry in the Church (ed. Bas Van lersel and Roland Murphy; 
New York: Herder, 1972) 36. 

'^Beyer, "AidKovo(;," 2. 90. 

miller: new testament church eldership 


i 1 

1- o 

> w 

O H 

^ o 
■a S 




1 1 




























/ ^ 

0/ c/^ 







It is interesting that several lexicographers agree with Beyer by not 
placing either SiaKovia or 6iaKov8(o of Acts 6 under the special cate- 
gory of the office of deacon, but rather in the general categories of 
service, ministry or care.^^ Similarly, H. M. Gwatkin writes: 

The traditional view, that the choice of the Seven in Acts 6 is the 
formal institution of a permanent order of deacons, does not seem 
unassailable. The opinion of Irenaeus, Cyprian, and later writers is not 
decisive on a question of this kind; and the vague word SiaKovia (used 
too in the context of the apostles themselves) is more than balanced by 
the avoidance of the word deacon in Acts."" 

One wonders how Geoffrey S. R. Cox could say Luke gives the 
diaconate "prominence,""" when Luke never even uses the technical 
term SidKovog. 

There are also several good reasons for equating the seven of 
Acts with some of the elders of Acts 1 1:30. Two of the seven, Stephen 
and Philip, have ministries that relate better to those of an elder than 
to those of a deacon. Gwatkin gives the following evidence to connect 
the seven in Acts 6 with the elders of Acts 11:30. 

[Since] the seven seem to rank next in the Church to the apostles, we 
may be tempted to see in them (if they are a permanent office at all) the 
elders whom we find at Jerusalem in precisely this position from 44 

However, it may be a problem to view the 7rpeo(3uT£poi of Acts 1 1:30 
as a specific church office. Peter used the term TrpeoPuiepoi in his 
Pentecostal sermon as a reference simply to older men (Acts 2:17). It 
makes some sense to believe that the apostles would give the responsi- 
bility of the relief fund to trusted older men of Judea in Acts 1 1:30. 
An interesting line of reasoning is presented by Andre Lemaire: 

"BAGD, 184; LSJ, 398; Joseph Henry Thayer, A Greek-English Lexicon of the 
New Testament {Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1972) 137-38; G. Abbott-Smith, A Manual 
Greek Lexicon of the New Testament (Edinburgh: Clark, 1977) 107-8. Abbott-Smith 
combines the office and work of SidKovoq in the definition of SiaKovia into one 
category, making it impossible to determine any distinction. But under SiaKOvew 
Acts 6:2 is given the general definition and only 1 Tim 3:10 and 13 are defined specifi- 
cally under the category "to serve as deacon." 

""H. M. Gwatkin, "Church Government in the Apostolic Age," Hastings Dictionary 
of the Bible (New York: Scribners, 1905) 1. 440. See also the discussion in Gorden D. 
Fee and Douglas S. Stuart, How to Read the Bible for All its Worth (Grand Rapids: 
Zondervan, 1982)93-94. 

""Geoffrey S. R. Cox, "The Emerging Organization of the Church in the New 
Testament, and the Limitations Imposed Thereon," EvQ 38 (1966) 33. 

■"^Gwatkin, "Church Government," 1. 440. 

miller: new testament church eldership 325 

The institution of the presbyters is not reported by the author of 
Acts; it is taken for granted — any Palestinian Jewish community was 
organized on the "presbyteral" model and had a college of elders at its 
head. ... It is likely that presbyters were appointed on this model in 
the new Jewish Christian communities in the diaspora and that it was 
Jewish Christian apostles . . . who "appointed elders in every church" 
in Cilicia and Southern Asia Minor (Acts 14:23)."^ 

Lemaire's thesis is founded upon the inadequate notion that the 
synagogue and the church had a similar organizational structure, 
especially with regard to the eldership. It has been shown that the 
differences between the church and synagogue organization exceed 
any similarities. 

Thomas M. Lindsay correctly explained the functional differences 
between the Jewish elders and church elders of Jerusalem when he 

When we find "elders" in charge of the community in Jerusalem, 
ready to receive the contributions for the relief of those who were 
suffering from the famine which overtook them in the reign of Claudius, 
it is impossible to doubt that the name came from their Jewish sur- 
roundings. At the same time it must always be remembered that 
Christian "elders" had functions entirely different from the Jewish, that 
the vitality of the infant Christian Communities made them work out 
for themselves that organization which they found to be most suitable, 
and that in this case nothing but the name was borrowed [italics 

To be sure, Acts 1 1:30 is a difficult passage from which to prove 
anything concerning the NT church eldership. Employing such a prob- 
lem passage as evidence for the theory of the synagogue/ church 
eldership correspondence is highly questionable. Furthermore, since 
no reappointment of synagogue elders as church elders is ever stated 
in the NT, such a theory is seriously lacking in credibility. And since 
no mention of the synagogue eldership as the form or pattern of the 
church elders is ever clearly established in the NT, it would be best 
not to force any connection between the two. 

Church Worship in the Synagogue 

One of the reasons why most believe that the synagogue was the 
pattern of NT church government is the fact that the early church 

■"Lemaire, "Service to Ministries," 4 1-42. 
Thomas M. Lindsay, The Church and the Ministry in the Early Centuries 
(reprint; Minneapolis: James Family, 1977) 153. 


worshipped in the synagogues. Paul testified before Agrippa that 
he punished the Christians (before his conversion) in "every syna- 
gogue" (Acts 26:10-1 1). James refers to the synagogue as the place of 
Christian worship (Jas 2:1). 

However, the synagogue was not the only place of Christian 
assembly in NT times. It is clear that believers gathered in the Temple 
at Jerusalem for worship (Acts 2:46; 3:1). Admittedly, the use of the 
Temple as a place of Christian worship was short-lived. Yet it v/as 
used, and could have influenced church organization since the church 
was entirely Jewish at first. Yet there is no correspondence between 
the Temple officers and NT church officers. 

The early Christians also met in homes for worship (Acts 2:46; 
11:12; Rom 16:5; 1 Cor 16:19; Col 4:15). But one could not say the 
organization of the home determined the organizational structure of 
the church. 

The book of Acts shows that homes (Acts 5:42; 16:32; 18:7-8), 
synagogues (Acts 9:20; 13:5; 17:1; 19:8), and the Temple (5:20; 5:42) 
were all centers of evangelistic preaching where unbelievers could 
hear the gospel. The organizational structures of such places where 
unbelievers gathered do not have any necessary link with the structure 
of the local NT church. 

The Twenty-Four Elders in Revelation 

Geoffrey S. R. Cox believes that the twenty-four elders in 
Revelation give weight to the theory of the carry-over of the syna- 
gogue elder to the church elder. He states: 

If our other suggestion is also true, that Christians continued to 
worship in synagogues, whether with others, or in their own specifically 
Christian ones, then it would be natural to take over the system which 
had already served them well. A further support for this is found in the 
usage in Revelation where we read of the twenty-four elders, who can 
fairly be said to symbolize the worshippers of both Old and New 
Covenants, and thus to emphasize yet again Christianity as the true 
continuation and completion of Judaism.'*^ 

In response to Cox's position, one must first consider the highly 
debated issue of the identity of the twenty-four elders. The traditional 
identification held by most scholars is that the elders are angelic 
representatives. Morris and Phillips are two examples of more recent 
adherents.'*^ Others have identified the twenty-four elders as represent- 
ing Israel. Still others agree with Cox's position that the elders 

"'Cox, "Emerging Organization," 33. 

""^Leon Morris, The Revelation of St. John, (TNTC; Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 
1969) 88; John Phillips, Exploring Revelation (Chicago: Moody, 1974) 103. 

miller: new testament church eldership 327 

represent both OT and NT saints. Strauss quotes H. A. Ironside's 
dogmatic stance in support of this view/^ Finally, the view which 
seems most acceptable to this writer is that the elders are repre- 
sentatives of the church. This position is supported by such com- 
mentators as C. C. Ryrie, J. B. Smith, J. A. Seiss, H. A. Hoyt, and 
J. F. Walvoord.'** Obviously, to use such a highly contested group as 
the twenty-four elders to support the theory of the direct link of the 
synagogue elders to the church is to build upon a most tenuous 


The uniqueness of the organization of the NT church eldership 
against its Hellenistic or Jewish cultural setting is consistent with the 
uniqueness of the church as the body of Christ. This body is a mystery 
(Eph 3:4-6; 5:32) — a secret of God revealed in the NT. It is fitting 
that its organizational structure is distinct from any other previous 
organization. The qualifications and functions of the NT church elders 
have no clear forerunners. 

After all the evidence is analyzed, Beyer's conclusion is worthy of 

Thus we have in the Jewish community many points of initiation for 
the Christian offices of bishop and deacon, but neither here nor in 
paganism are there any exact models which are simply copied. The 
creative power of the early church was strong enough to fashion its 
own offices for conduct of congregational life and divine worship.'*' 

Of course, the early church's "creative power" was due to its posses- 
sion of the Holy Spirit, sent by the risen and ascended Christ. 

The church today should consider the uniqueness of the NT 
eldership as motivation to study NT church polity. Our Lord's church 
should be organized the way he has designed it in his word. 

"'Lehman Strauss, The Book of Revelation (Neptune, NJ: Loizeaux, 1964) 132. 

**C. C. Ryrie, Revelation (Chicago: Moody, 1968) 36; J. B. Smith, A Revelation of 
Jesus Christ (Scottsdale, PA: Herald, 1961) 104-7; J. A. Seiss, The Apocalypse (reprint; 
Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1973) 103-5; Herman A. Hoyt, Studies in Revelation 
(Winona Lake, IN: BMH, 1966) 43; and John F. Walvoord, The Revelation of Jesus 
Christ (Chxc&go: Moody, 1966) 107. 

"'Beyer, "AidKovoq," 2. 91. 

Grace Theological Journal 6.2 ( 1985) 329-335 


Jerry R. Young 

The hidden agendas for pastoral duties found in many churches 
are a result of a misunderstanding of the pastoral function in the local 
church. The pastor may function as an elder and I or a bishop, but his 
primary responsibilities in the local church are to provide leadership 
and to teach (as did Timothy and Titus). God especially equips the 
pastor to fulfill these duties. If the hidden agendas are renounced in 
favor of the NT directives, the twentieth century church will receive the 


IN my second year as a pastor, I became aware of a hidden agenda 
used in the examination and selection of pastors. The Senior Pastor 
and I had resigned, both of us intending to assume home mission 
responsibihties. A pulpit committee, composed of the foremost men in 
the church, was elected to search for and recommend a pastoral 
candidate to the congregation. It was a scene common among self- 
governing churches in America. For its initial meeting, the committee 
chose to meet in the large Christian Education office where my desk 
was located. Surprised by the committee's entrance, I rose to my feet 
and proceeded to gather the project on which I was working. Although 
the men quickly assured me that my presence did not concern them, 
remaining in the room did not seem proper to me. Before 1 could 
gather my things and depart, however, the men sat down and the 
meeting began. A prominent name was mentioned. "Oh, we couldn't 
ask him," replied another voice. "He would want to do things his own 
way." Other names were mentioned. One man was too fat. Another 
was too old. The hidden agenda was out on the table. 

Twenty years have passed since my introduction to the hidden 
agenda. New forms of local church government have been encouraged. 
Strong, visionary leadership from the pastor has become a desirable 
trait. But hidden agendas remain. 

It is my opinion that such agendas abound because pastors are not 
sure of their own identities and responsibilities. They try to function 


like deacons by visiting the sick and helping the poor. They try to 
function like bishops by meeting with committees and supervising 
church programs. They try to function like pastors by preaching and 
teaching. In their efforts to be everything and do everything, they end 
up as office managers and program technicians. 

I know full well that there are pressures on pastors to be all things 
to all people. There are occasions when it is impossible to avoid the 
mixing of roles. However, role confusion over a long period of time 
results in frustration for both pastor and congregation. Hidden 
agendas and expectations, if left uncorrected, will diminish the pastoral 
ministry and thus impoverish the local church. It is important for 
pastors to clearly identify their roles on the basis of Scripture. 


There are three words in the Greek NT that dominate any 
discussion of the pastoral role: npeoPuiepog/'elder', 87riaK07ro(;/ 
'bishop', and noi^r\v / 'pastor'. The first word seems to describe a 
person who is characterized by maturity and dignity.' The second word 
refers to a person who is charged with the duty or function of 
supervision.^ The third word refers to a person who leads and cares for 
sheep. ^ All three words may be found in combination with one 
another. In Acts 20 Paul reminds the elders (v 17) from Ephesus that 
the Holy Spirit has appointed them as bishops (v 28), and that they are 
to shepherd (v 28 from the verb 7toi|iaiv(o) the flock of God. In 1 Peter 
5, Peter admonishes elders (v I) to shepherd (v 2) the flock of God, 
exercising oversight (v 2 from the verb ETtiaKOTiew)'* in a spirit of 
willing sacrifice. The complex working relationship between the duties 
implied in these three words has occasioned a variety of views on the 
nature of church leadership. 

One segment of Christendom, in an effort to focus attention on 
the supervisory role of its top leadership, has chosen the word 
"Episcopalian" to describe its form of church government. Others 
prefer the term "Presbyterian," choosing to organize and govern their 
churches through the election of mature men and women. Still others 

'BAGD,699; Homer A. Kent, Vie Pastoral Epistles (Chicago: Moody, 1958) 121-22. 

'BAGD, 299. 

'From the idea of "pasturing, feeding," the verb passes readily into the idea of 
"governing, guiding." See BAGD, 684. 

''There is some doubt whether ^nioKOTtoCvTeg / 'exercising oversight' should be read 
in 1 Pet 5:2. It is supported in p" S'^, A, It., Byz, Lect, et al. It is omitted in K* and B. The 
wide geographical distribution of ms containing eTtiaKonoCvxet; argues strongly that it is 
the original reading. Titus 1:5, 7 could also be mentioned as another passage where 
£JtiaK07to(; and Ttpeopdiepoc; occur in close proximity in reference to the same man or 

young: shepherds, lead! 331 

prefer the strong, local leadership of a pastor, and might call themselves 
"Poimenian." However churches organize themselves and whatever 
aspect of government they choose to emphasize, the roles and functions 
embodied in these three words are not to be denied/ But imprecise 
language, role confusion, and deliberate abridgment of one function or 
the other can only result in the development of hidden agendas and the 
eventual weakening of the local church. 

It is a common practice among some churches to merge all three 
roles and functions into one administrative office. Familiarity with 
that practice encourages imprecise choice of terms and subsequent role 
confusion. For example, one competent writer, when commenting on 
the opening verses of 1 Timothy 3, makes the claim that "A local 
church has two administrative offices: the pastor and the deacon."^ Yet 
the word used in 1 Tim 3:1 is eTriaKOTrfjg. Evidently the writer's choice 
of words was inexact because of familiarity with a particular form of 
church government — a pastor accompanied by a board of deacons. 

The roles of elders and bishops do not necessarily cease to exist in 
the local church just because they are ignored in favor of the role of the 
pastor. Often their function is carried on by people with different titles 
who sometimes do not have the qualifications listed in Paul's epistles 
to Timothy and Titus. The effect of this can be harmful to the whole 

While it is easy to argue that the terms "elder" and "bishop" 
generally refer to the same office on the basis of Titus 1:5-7, it is not 
easy to argue that the term "pastor" refers to the same office as well. 
That particular gift, office, or function is not even named in the 
pastoral epistles. However, Timothy and Titus might be called pastors. 
Their influence and authority were highly visible, and Paul repeatedly 
commanded them to exercise the pastoral gift of teaching. 

In his letter to the Ephesians Paul clearly identified those offices 
that were given by God to build the Church: 

And he gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as 
evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the 
saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ; 
until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the 
Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of , the stature which 
belongs to the fulness of Christ [Eph 4:1 1-13].^ 

'For a thought-provoking exchange between two innovators in church government, 
see Larry Richards and Gene Getz, "A Bibhcai Style of Leadership," Leadership 2:2 
(Spring 1981)68-78. 

*R. G. Gromacki, Stand True To The Charge (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1982) 74. 

^All scriptural passages quoted in this article are taken from NASB. 


The permanence of these offices is often debated, some viewing one, 
two, or even three of the offices as temporary/ But no one denies the 
present existence of the pastoral gift. The combination of pastor and 
teacher into one office is argued, but no one denies that the pastor 
must be a teacher.^ The partial listing of gifts in 1 Cor 12:28 lends 
further support: "And God has appointed in the church, first apostles, 
second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healings, 
helps, administrations, various kinds of tongues." The teaching gift is 
listed without reference to the separate gifts of evangelism and 
pastoring found in Eph 4: 11. This could well represent a combination 
of three distinct gifts, with the leading component serving as an 
umbrella. The gifts of evangelism, pastoring and teaching often reside 
simultaneously in one person. 

The pastor is a special kind of teacher. He is a teacher who should 
stand out among other teachers because of a gift from God. In his clear 
exposition of the Bible he should emulate the Chief Shepherd, who 
taught "as one having authority, and not as the scribes" (Mark 1:22). 
He will probably be a bishop if he supervises the work of others. If he is 
in the middle years of life, experienced and mature, he will probably be 
an elder as well. Whether his forum is a seminary classroom, a 
conference platform, a mission headquarters, or a church auditorium, 
his gift is to lead a flock of sheep. Whatever Christians today might call 
him, he functions as a pastor or shepherd of God's flock. Recognition 
of this basic truth is a necessary first step in removing the hidden 
agendas hindering many churches today. 


One of the most fascinating verbal exchanges between Jesus and 
his disciples may be found in John 21:15-17. It is the story of Peter's 
recovery from failure as a disciple, and his return to leadership: 

So when they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, "Simon, 
son of John, do you love Me more than these?" He said to Him. "Yes. 
Lord; You know that 1 love You." He said to him, "Tend My lambs." He 
said to him again a second time, "Simon, son of John, do you love Me?" 
He said to Him, "Yes. Lord; You know that 1 love You." He said to him, 
"Shepherd My sheep." He said to him the third time, "Simon, son of 
John, do you love Me?" Peter was grieved because He said to him the 
third time, "Do you love Me?" And he said to Him, "Lord, you know all 
things; You know that I love You." Jesus said to him, "Tend My sheep." 

*Gromacki (Stand True To The Charge, 74) suggests that the gifts of apostleship, 
prophecy and evangelism were temporary and have ceased. 

'For a careful examination of linguistic evidence, see Daniel B. Wallace, "The 
Semantic Range of the Article-Noun-Kai-Noun Construction in the New Testament," 
G77 4 (1983) 59-84. 

young: shepherds, lead! 333 

Many people are aware of the subtle shift in the Lord's use of the 
words for "love." But very few realize that Jesus also used two different 
words in his command that Peter "shepherd" and "tend" the Master's 
sheep. The Lord first used the word |36aKco, then changed to noiiiaivco, 
and finally returned to |36aK(o for the third repetition of his command. 
The combination is significant. 

The word (36okco simply means "to provide food," while the word 
7roi|iaiva) more broadly refers to "the guiding, guarding, folding of the 
flock, as well as finding of nourishment for it."'° Peter was to feed the 
lambs and the sheep of the flock of God. But he also had a wider 
responsibility to lead the flock in every aspect of its existence. 
Providing nourishment, though paramount in all the pastor's work, is 
simply not enough. 

Many fine young men have done poorly as pastors of local 
churches because they were unable to bring a commanding presence to 
the work. They may have been excellent supervisors, or warm-hearted 
teachers, or compelhng evangelists, but they lacked the authoritative 
leadership required of a shepherd. Even the addition of experience and 
maturity cannot fully compensate for the absence of the ability to lead 

The apostolic directives to Timothy and Titus presuppose such 
a pastoral gift, a gift to which Paul refers in 1 Tim 1:18; 4:14; and 
2 Tim 1:6. The written support of an apostle certainly provided instant 
credibility for these younger teachers in Ephesus and Crete. But the 
capacity to lead strongly in matters of doctrine and conduct was an abso- 
lute necessity, without which the apostolic directives were useless. In his 
general introduction to 1 Timothy, Gromacki calls attention to this: 

The concept of charge is dominant in this epistle. The verb (paraggelld) 
is used five times (1:3; 4:11; 5:7; 6:13, 17) and its noun form is found 
twice (1:5, 18). The term suggests the transfer of commands from a 
superior officer to a subordinate. Paul expected that Timothy, as a 
"good soldier of Jesus Christ" (11 Tim 2:3), would carry out the 
apostolic charge." 

It is instructive to note that in all but one of the above named 
cases, Paul called upon Timothy to command the Ephesians. Only in 
1 Tim 6: 13-14 did Paul use 7iapaYY8>.>.co in direct reference to Timothy: 

'"R. C. Trench, Synonyms of the New Testament (ninth ed.; London: Macmillan, 
1880) 85. For a defense of the view that these word shifts involve changes in meaning see 
William Hendriksen, John (New Testament Commentary; 2 vols.; Grand Rapids: Baker, 
1953) 2. 494-500. For arguments that the word shifts are simply stylistic and convey 
identical meanings see Leon Morris, The Gospel According to John (NICNT; Grand 
Rapids: Eerdmans, 1971) 870-77. 

"Gromacki, Stand True To The Charge, 22. 


I charge you [TtapayYe^^^-w] in the presence of God, who gives life to all 
things, and of Christ Jesus, who testified the good confession before 
Pontius Pilate, that you keep the commandment [8VTo)ir|v] without 
stain or reproach until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ. 

In all other cases, Timothy was the one expected to give the "charges" 
and "commands." When Timothy appeared to falter under the pres- 
sures that most certainly come to leaders in command, Paul wrote 
again to Timothy, reminding him to "kindle afresh the gift of God" 
which was in him and urging him to "be strong in the grace that is in 
Christ Jesus" (2 Tim 1 :6; 2: 1 ). 

Strong and commanding leadership in matters of doctrine and 
conduct does not necessitate tyrannical behavior. Adolf Hitler called 
himself the Leader, but at a point in time he ceased being a genuine 
leader and became a tyrant. The power to control others is not real 
leadership. As James MacGregor Burns observes, "A leader and a 
tyrant are polar opposites."'^ Perhaps Timothy allowed his gift to 
smolder, without bright flames, because he feared the possible aliena- 
tion of his hearers. It is a fear not uncommon to pastors. Paul was 
careful to delineate between tyrannical behavior and pastoral leadership: 

And the Lord's bond-servant must not be quarrelsome, but be kind to 
ail, able to teach, patient when wronged, with gentleness correcting 
those who are in opposition, if perhaps God may grant them repentance 
leading to the knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses 
and escape from the snare of the devil, having been held captive by him 
to do his will [2 Tim 2:24-26]. 

Gentle correction does not imply weakness or lack of leadership. 
Neither does kindness legitimize holding back truth. Patience is not 
timid hesitation. Style, not content, is the subject of Paul's admonition. 
Simply put, shepherds feed and lead. They lead in such a way that 
no individual member of the flock is able to disregard the shepherd. 
This requires a delicate balance between kindness and patience, on the 
one hand, and authority on the other. This agenda for pastoral 
responsibility should be foremost when local churches seek pastors. 


Field Marshall William Slim, in an address at the United States 
Military Academy, opened his heart to young cadets on the subject of 

When things are bad . . . there will come a sudden pause when your men 
will stop and look at you. No one will speak. They will just look at you 

'^J. M. Burns, Leadership (New York: Harper & Row, 1978) 3. 

young: shepherds, lead! 335 

and ask for leadership. Their courage is ebbing; you must make it flow 
back, and it is not easy. You will never have felt more alone in your 

There is loneliness in command. When things are bad, the leader 
wishes he could return to being a follower. The shepherd may long for 
the status of a sheep. But the Chief Shepherd has called him forward, 
and placed in his hands the tools of a shepherd. The sheep look 
expectantly for leadership. This study has argued that the sheep must 
abandon their hidden agendas and adopt a scriptural agenda if true 
pastoral leadership is their goal. 

What are the tools for such leadership? The qualities required 
of bishops, listed in 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1, are qualities which 
ideally should be developed in all believers. Accuracy of doctrine 
and purity of conduct are mandated in Scripture for every member 
of the flock of God. But what are the special tools of a shepherd, which 
belong to him alone? 

Paul's letters to Timothy and Titus reveal some answers to that 

1. The ability to teach accurately and authoritatively even when 
alone, yet without striving (1 Tim 1:3; 4:6; 5:20-21; 6:17; 
2 Tim 2:1-2, 14-15; 4:2-5; Tit 2:1, 15; 3:8). 

2. The ability to relate doctrine to practical conduct (1 Tim 1:5; 
4:7-8, 12, 15-16; 2 Tim 2:22; Tit 2:7-8). 

3. The willingness to select faithful men to oversee the work of God 
(1 Tim 3:1-7; Tit 1:5-9). 

4. The willingness to select faithful men and women who can 
perform works of service (1 Tim 2:8-10; 3:8-13; 5:9-10, 16; 
2 Tim 2:1-2). 

5. The courage to show oneself, and the discipline to make the 
show worth seeing (1 Tim 4:12, 15-16; 2 Tim 3:10; Tit 2:7-8). 

6. The courage to accept hardship and personal sacrifice in the 
spirit of the Chief Shepherd ( 1 Tim 6: 1 1 - 1 6; 2 Tim 1 :6-9; 2:1-3; 

An unfading crown of glory awaits shepherds who lead. Let us choose 
them well. 

''Cited by S. W. Roskill, The Art of Leadership (Hamden, CT: Archon, 1965) 152. 

Grace TheologicalJourna/ 6.2 {\9S5) 337-348 




Tracy L. Howard 

// has recently been argued that KaOeuSco in 1 Thess 5:10 rrieans 
"spiritual insensibility. " However, the context indicates that the word 
is used as a euphemism for death. This is within the semantic range of 
the word and is supported by structural parallels between 1 Thess 
4:13-14, 18 and 1 Thess 5:9-11 in which KadevSo) is paired with 


UNTIL recently, most commentators have understood Paul's refer- 
ence to "sleep" in 1 Thess 5:10 as a metaphor for "physical 
death." This would seem reasonable since Paul frequently uses the 
metaphor of "sleep" to describe a believer who has died in the Lord. 
In fact, he uses the metaphor earlier in the same eschatological dis- 
course in which 1 Thess 5:10 is located (cf. 1 Thess 4:13-14). How- 
ever, in 4:13 he uses the verb Koijidco whereas in 5:10 he employs 
KaOeuSo). The question therefore immediately arises whether or not 
Paul uses Ka0eu8(o as a synonym for Koijido); in other words, does he 
use both verbs as a metaphor to describe "physical death"? 1 Thess 
5:10 states that Christ "died on our behalf, in order that whether we 
are awake or asleep (Ka0ei)5(O)i8v) we might live together with Him." 
The commentators and lexicographers are virtually unanimous in their 
interpretation of KaOeuSo) as a euphemism for "death" in this text. 
However, several recent articles suggest that KaOeuSo) means "spiritual 
insensibility" instead of "physical death."' Although some of the 

'Thomas R. Edgar, "The Meaning of 'Sleep' in 1 Thessalonians 5:10," JETS 22 
(1979) 345-49; Zane C. Hodges, "The Rapture in 1 Thessalonians 5:1-11," in 
Walvoord: A Tribute (Chicago: Moody Press, 1982) 75-78; and B. N. Kaye, "Escha- 
tology and Ethics in 1 and 2 Thessalonians," NovT (1975) 51-52, esp. n 27; this 
interpretation also has been proposed by Thomas L. Constable, "1 Thessalonians," in 


arguments appear convincing on the surface, they reflect a failure to 
consider other contextual, literary, and lexical features which strongly 
suggest that in 1 Thess 5:10 KaGeuSw does not refer to "spiritual 
insensibility" but instead is used as a metaphor for "physical death." 
Thus the purpose of this article is to reappraise the meaning of 
Ka08i)5to in 1 Thess 5:10 and to suggest that the nuance of "physical 
death" is most appropriate in the context. 


If Paul uses KaOeuSto as a reference to "physical death" in 1 Thess 
5:10, it is a clear departure from his customary tendency.^ He normally 
uses Koindto when employing the metaphor of "sleep" for the death of 
a believer.^ In fact, if he is departing from his normal use of Koi|ida) 
and employs KaBeuSw as a euphemism for death, it would be the only 
occasion in which he gives KaOeuSco such a nuance. It is possible that 
Paul uses KaGeuSw for "death" in Eph 5:14 although doubtful.'' The 
only other two occurrences in the Pauline corpus are found in the 
same context as 5:10 (cf. vv 6, 7). In v 6 Paul uses the verb to describe 
"spiritual insensibility" while in v 7 he uses the verb for "literal sleep. "^ 

The Bible Knowledge Commentary (Wheaton: Victor Books, 1983) 707; see also C. F. 
Hogg and W. E. Vine, The Epistle to the Thessalonians (Grand Rapids: Kregel, reprint 
1959) 172; and Robert L. Thomas, "1 Thessalonians," in The Expositor's Bible Com- 
mentary (\2 vols.; Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1978) 11. 285-86. 

^Such departures from "normal tendencies" are not unusual for Paul. In 1 Thess 
4:14 he states, 'Iriooijq dTieGavev Koi dveoiri / 'Jesus died and rose'. This phrase 
contains dveotri rather than the usual r\yt^Qr\. Paul uses eyeipca much more frequently 
for resurrection whether of Christ or of his people, dvioTr||ii being found only here and 
in Eph 5:14. On the other hand eyEipco is used forty times by Paul, normally in the 
passive (cf. W. F. Moulton and A. S. Geden, A Concordance to the Greek Testament 
[Edinburgh: Clark, 1975] 246-47). Certainly one would not argue that dveaxr) has a 
different meaning than eyeipw simply because Paul employs the unusual dviaTr)|ii. 
(Some have argued, however, that this unusual occurrence of dviaxrini suggests 
dependence on a pre-Pauline credal formula [cf. Ivan Havener, "The Pre-Pauline 
Credal Formulas of 1 Thessalonians" (SBL Seminar Papers, 1981) 105-28]. It is 
interesting that the verb seems to be used in such a credal fashion among the patristics; 
cf. Ign. Rom. 4:3 [dvaoTrjoonai]; 6:1 [both dnoGavovTa and dvaaidvia appear together, 
the same two words that occur in 1 Thess 4:14]; Barn. 15:9 [dveatri, the same form as 
1 Thess 4: 14].) 

'Cf. I Cor 7:39; 11:30; 15:6, 18. 20, 51; 1 Thess 4:13, 14, 15. Of the nine occurrences 
in Pauline material, seven appear in two major eschatological texts, 1 Corinthians 15 
and I Thessalonians 4. 

"l would agree with Edgar ("The Meaning of 'Sleep'," 348) at this point when he 
writes, "It is difficult to conceive, however, that someone would command a physically 
dead person to rise and then go on to state that Christ will illuminate him if he does"; 
hence, it is preferable to view Paul's use of KaOeuSw in Eph 5:14 as a reference to 
"spiritual insensibility" (cf. BAGD, 388). 

'BAGD, 388. The metaphorical sense is clear in v 6 through which Paul conveys 
the idea of spiritual laziness. This figurative use is also found in classical Greek with a 

HOWARD: "sleep" IN 1 THESSALONIANS 5:10 339 

Thus to attribute the nuance of "physical death" to KaBeuSw in 5:10 
not only would suggest a departure from Paul's normal tendency to 
use Koifidd), but would ascribe a different nuance to KaGeoSw than 
found elsewhere in his letters. For this reason, both Edgar and Hodges 
question whether KaGeuSw can possibly have such a meaning for 
Paul, particularly since he just used the verb metaphorically in 5:6 for 
"spiritual insensibility."^ Therefore, if KaGeuSo) is a euphemism for 
death in 5:10, it must be demonstrated that Paul did in fact depart 
from his normal tendency to use Koifidco and that a different nuance 
of KaGeuSo) is used from that which occurs in the immediate context 
(cf. V 6). The question is this: are there other contextual, literary, and 
lexical features which suggest that KaGe66to in 5:10 is a euphemism 
for death? 


The Use ofKadEudo) Both in the LXX 
and in the New Testament 

It has already been noted that PauFs "normal" pattern is to 
employ Koi|ido) when he uses sleep as a metaphor for death. However, 
this can be misleading, particularly when the issue of verbal meaning 
is considered. While statistics are helpful they are not determinative 
for meaning. If it can be shown that the nuance of "death" falls 
within the semantic range of KaGeuSco, the exegete must consider this 
as a possible meaning even if Paul's "normal" pattern is to use 
Koijido). There are passages both in the LXX and in the NT in which 
KaGeu5to is used metaphorically for death. 

The verb is used twice in the LXX as a reference for death. In 
Ps 88:5 (LXX 87:6) the text reads (baei ipauiiaxiai £ppi|i|ievoi 
KaGe65ovTe(; ev idcpcp / 'like the slain, having been cast down, who 
sleep in the grave'. Here the reference surely means "death" since 

derogatory sense, indicating defective concentration or a deficient action (cf. Plato, 
Ion, LCL, 536b). However, in v 7 Paul uses an illustration of actual activities that 
occur at night and both Ka9eiJ5a) and |ie0uoKo^ai are used in their literal sense as a 
basis for the metaphorical application (cf. I. Howard Marshall, / and 2 Thessalonians 
[New Century Bible Commentary; Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1983] 137). The present 
substantival participles oi Ka9eu5ovTeg and oi |ie0uoK6|a£voi as well as the present 
indicatives Ka0eu5ouaiv and |i£0uouoiv are customary presents describing normal, 
habitual activities. It is unnecessary to suppose with Evald Lovestam (Spiritual Wakeful- 
ness in the New Testament [Lund: CWK Gleerup, 1963] 54) that these are metaphors 
for absorption in the affairs of the present world. However, I would argue that Paul is 
thinking of "night" as the spiritual antithesis of the coming of the light symbolized by 
"day"(cf. Marshall, / and 2 Thessalonians, 138). 

*Edgar, "The Meaning of 'Sleep'," 345; and Hodges, "The Rapture in 1 Thes- 
salonians 5:1-11," 76. 


the writer is describing those who have been killed and are now in 
the grave. Another important text particularly for the discussion of 
1 Thess 5:10 is Dan 12:2.^ The passage reads Kai 7ro>i?ioi xtov 
KaGeu86vTO)v ev tm Tt^Ldtei xfjg yf\c, dvaairiaovTai, oi |iev eic, ^tof]v 
aiwviov, oi Se sig 6v8i5io|i6v, oi Se eiq SiaaTtopctv Kai aiox\)vr\v 
aicbviov / 'and many of those who sleep in the dust shall awake, some 
to everlasting life, and some to reproach and everlasting shame'. This 
text clearly says that those who have "died" one day will rise from 
that state, i.e., death. In light of the eschatological nature of Dan 12:2, 
Paul may have even employed the language of Dan 12:2 in 1 Thess 
5:10 and then adapted it to his own eschatological discussion. One 
thing, however, is certain, namely, in the LXX the nuance of "death" 
is not out of concord with the semantic field of the verb KaOeuSco. 
Furthermore, such a nuance is not out of place in eschatological and 
resurrection contexts, which Dan 12:2 clearly shows. This feature is 
also true in the NT. 

All three synoptic gospels contain the account of Jesus raising 
Jairus' daughter from the dead (Mark 5:39; Matt 9:24; Luke 8:52). 
Each of the gospels (with minor variations) contain the phrase ou 
drceOavev d>„>id KaOeuSei, 'she has not died, but is asleep'. All three 
gospels also record the crowd's response of laughter. However, only 
Luke gave the reason why they were laughing. He wrote in 8:53 
eidoxec, oti dneOavev / 'because they knew that she had died'. Luke 
did not say "because they thought she had died." Instead he gave an 
editorial comment and clearly assumed that the girl was dead. Swete 
remarks, "some have declined to regard the miracle as a raising of the 
dead. But the fact of the child's death was obvious to the bystanders, 
and is apparently assumed by the Evangelists, at least by Lc. (eiSoisc; 
OTi dTieOavev)."* Edgar questions this understanding of KaOeuSco here. 
He argues that the hearers of Jesus understood him to mean that she 
was asleep. Furthermore, if Jesus meant "death" by his use of 
KaOeuSo), such a statement becomes contradictory, namely, "she is 
not dead, but she is dead."^ On the surface this might seem to be the 
case, but the question still remains: was the girl dead or not? Luke 
said she was. Then why would Jesus use KaOeuSco in juxtaposition to 
dTtoOvTioKco with the same meaning? Cranfield offers a reasonable 
explanation. He says, "It is more natural to take the words to mean 
that, though she is dead, yet, since he is going to raise her up, her 

'The Theodotion text also uses tcov KoGeuSovTcov as a reference to those who have 
died but who will experience resurrection (see Alfred Rahlfs, ed.. The Septuaginta 
[Stuttgart: Deutsche Bibelstiftung, 1935] 935). 

*H. B. Swete, The Gospel According to St. Mark (London: Macmillan, 1927) 108. 

'Edgar, "The Meaning of 'Sleep'," 348. 

HOWARD: "sleep" IN 1 THESSALONIANS 5! 10 341 

death will be no more permanent than a sleep." "^ Cranfield also adds 
a remark regarding the application that such a passage would have in 
the communities of the respective evangelists. He writes: 

no doubt the words had also — besides their particular significance in 
this context — a general significance, as a reminder to Christians that 
death is not the last word but a sleep from which Christ will wake us at 
the last day, and therefore a rebuke to those who in the presence of 
death behave as those who have no hope." 

Thus, Edgar does not take into consideration that Jesus may be 
attempting to convey through this use of KaGeuSco the "temporary" 
aspect of death with reference to the girl.'^ 

The point is that KaGeuSco is used metaphorically for death in the 
LXX and probably in Mark 5:39; Matt 9:24; and Luke 8:52. Hence, 
the nuance of "death" is not out of concord with the semantic field of 
KaGeuSo) and thus should be considered as a possible meaning in 
1 Thess5:10. 

Contextual Uses of KadEuSco 

Both Edgar and Hodges are correct in pointing out that in the 
immediate context of 1 Thess 5:10 Paul uses KaGeuSw with a different 
nuance than "death." '^ In fact, Edgar asks the question "why change 

'"C. E. B. Cranfield, The Gospel According to Si. Mark (Cambridge Greek 
Testament Commentary; Cambridge: Cambridge University, 1959) 189; see also Swete, 
The Gospel According to St. Mark, 108; Joseph A. Fitzmyer, The Gospel According to 
Luke I-IX (AB; Garden City: Doubleday, 1981) 749; and Vincent Taylor, The Gospel 
According to St. Mark (London: Macmillan, 1952) 295. It is interesting that although 
Vine {Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words [Old Tappan, NJ: Revell, 1940] 
80) interprets KaGeuSco as "spiritual insensibility" in 1 Thess 5:10, he says it meant 
"physical death" in Mark 5:39; Matt 9:24; and Luke 8:52. 

"Cranfield, The Gospel According to St. Mark, 189. 

'^A similar expression is found in John 11:11 in connection with the death of 
Lazarus. Jesus says, Adi^apoq 6 (piX,0(; f\\i(h\/ KeKoinr|Tai / 'Lazarus our friend has been 
sleeping'. Here Jesus uses the perfect of Koindco, a verb that certainly is used meta- 
phorically in the NT for "physical death." Lest one be inclined to take this use literally, 
John informs the reader of the exact meaning of the Lord's words. He writes in v 13 
eipr|KEi 5e 6 'Ir|ooC(; Ttepi xoO Oavdiou auToC / 'now Jesus was talking about his 
death'. There is no question that in this passage Koi|id(o is used as a metaphor for 
death. Similarly, KoOeuSco should be taken as a metaphor for death in Mark 5:39. In 
both passages Jesus states that the one who had died "sleeps." Furthermore, John 
11:13 and Luke 8:53 have interpretive statements to the effect that "sleep" means 

'^Edgar, "The Meaning of 'Sleep'," 349; and Hodges, "The Rapture in 1 Thes- 
salonians 5:1-11," 76. They make this observation in order to support the idea that if 
the nuance of "spiritual insensibility" is found in v 6 for Ka0eu6a) then the same 


meanings in the immediate context?" The question is legitimate but 
somewhat misleading because in 1 Thess 5:6-7 Paul uses Ka08u5to 
two times yet with two different senses. Thus the same question regard- 
ing the change of meaning in the same context could be asked about 
Paul's use of KaGeuSto in v 7. In v 6 he uses Ka0£65o) as a metaphor 
for "spiritual insensibility" whereas in v 7 he uses the verb in its literal 
sense to denote "sleep."''* Thus in two verses Paul uses the same verb 
with two different meanings. Why then would it be so unusual for 
Paul to employ a third nuance of the verb in v 10, namely, that of 
"physical death"? 1 would suggest just the contrary, namely, that the 
preceding uses of Ka08u5(o probably explain why Paul chose KaBeuSw 
rather than Koi^do) as a metaphor for death in 1 Thess 5:10. It is 
possible that the recurrence of KaOeuSo is due to the fact that KaOeuSw 
was still on Paul's mind when he wrote v 10. Regarding this literary 
feature, E. Laughton points out that in less formal literature, both 
ancient and modern, "a single word or phrase persists in the writer's 
mind by its own force, independently of any sense-recurrence."'^ How- 
ever, it is also possible that Paul is using a word play, intentionally 
picking up on the preceding occurrences of the verb, particularly in 
V 6. As EUingworth and Nida comment, "Here Paul cleverly uses two 
terms (ypriYopea) and Ka0si35to) which he had been using to speak of 
alertness but which at this point he transposes to mean 'alive/ dead'. 

meaning is probable in v 10. However, Moises Silva (Biblical Words and Their 
Meaning: An Introduction to Lexical Semantics [Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1983]. 
"Literary and contextual features" could be added to Silva 's list of modifiers ["phrase 
and syntactical features"]) has cautioned about the danger of this kind of reasoning. 
He writes, "one is rather likely to ignore what may look like small differences between 
the ways the word is used; that is, one may import into a particular passage a meaning 
discovered elsewhere, without noticing that the word in the latter passage is modified 
by a particular phrase or by some syntactical feature" (p. 26). 

"BAGD, 388. Cf. n 5 above. 

'^E. Laughton, "Subconscious Repetition and Textual Criticism," Classical Philol- 
ogy 45 (1950) 75. Very little has been done in the area of "subconscious recurrence." 
Other than Laughton' work this writer is aware of only two others that address the 
issue specifically; see A. B. Cook, "Unconscious Iterations, with Special Reference to 
Classical Literature," Classical Review 16 (1902) 146-58; 256-67; and F. W. Hall, 
"Repetitions and Obsessions in Plautus," Classical Quarterly 20 (1926) 20-26: The 
writer is indebted to David Baker who recently presented the results of his own research 
in a paper entitled "Subconscious Repetition" (for the class Advanced Greek Grammar; 
Grace Theological Seminary: April, 1985). He defines subconscious recurrence as "the 
unintentional, unnatural repetition of a word or phrase which was used naturally in the 
immediately preceding context" (p. 3). By "unintentional" he means "subconscious 
repetition" and by "unnatural" he means that the second occurrence of the word is 
strained, or stretched, in relation to its semantic field. It is interesting that of the several 
NT examples he cites, one is Ypriyopeo) which occurs as a parallel to Ka6eu8co in both 
5:6 and 5:10. Although the meaning of "alive" is unusual for ypriyopea), this nuance 
might be explained as a "subconscious recurrence." 

HOWARD: "sleep" IN 1 THESSALONIANS 51 10 343 

In this way he brings us back to 4:13."'^ Therefore, I would argue 
that although Paul normally uses Koindo) as a metaphor for death, 
his choice of KaGeuSco in 5:10 can be linked to the two preceding uses 
of Ka0£u6co in 5:6-7 and in no way necessitates a different nuance 
than Koifido) in 4:13-14. 

The Preceding Exhortations to Moral Sensibility 

One of the strongest arguments for taking KaOeuSw as "death" in 
1 Thess 5:10 is based on the preceding exhortations to "moral sensi- 
bility." If one renders KaOeuSo) as "spiritual insensibility" it greatly 
weakens all the preceding exhortations to spiritual alertness found in 
vv 6, 8. In 4:13-5:5 Paul describes a great eschatological event which 
is imminent, namely, the Parousia of Jesus Christ which for the 
believer will be a time of great blessing but for the unbeliever a time 
of judgment." Paul says that it will come suddenly and unexpectedly 

'^Paul Ellingworth and Eugene A. Nida, A Translator's Handbook on Paul's 
Letters to the Thessalonians (New York: United Bible Societies, 1976) 1 14. 

'^I have argued elsewhere that 1 Thess 4: 13-5: 1 1 is a single literary and theological 
unit describing the same eschatological event from two perspectives. Thus Paul employs 
Tiapouaia in 4:13-18 when he describes the believer's relationship to this great eschato- 
logical event, yet he uses "Day of the Lord" in 5:1-5 (a judgment context) because of 
the reference to unbelievers and their relationship to this eschatological event. He says 
this event will overtake them as a "thief in the night" (cf. 5:2-3). However, believers are 
of the "day" and not in darkness and will not be surprised when the event occurs. 
Nevertheless they should maintain spiritual alertness in view of the imminent and 
sudden nature of the event (cf. 5:6). Cf. "The Literary and Theological Unity of 
1 Thessalonians 4:13-5:11" (unpublished M.A. thesis; Texas Christian University: May, 
1983); a shortened form was presented under the same title to the Southwest Regional 
Meeting of the Society of Biblical Literature, Dallas, Texas, March 1983; see further 
John A. Sproule, "An Exegetical Defense of Pretribulationism" (unpublished Th.D. 
dissertation; Grace Theological Seminary: May, 1981) 144-54; he also argues for the 
literary and theological unity of this entire eschatological discourse. He makes the 
important observation, particularly in light of the pretribulational versus posttribula- 
tional debate, that many come to this passage with the assumption that Paul's 
eschatology is refined. He writes, "Paul had no refined eschatology. Nowhere does 
Paul differentiate between two aspects of the Lord's second coming; however, that 
neither disproves pretribulationism any more than it proves posttribulationism. The 
modern mistake is to impose the refined eschatological thinking and methodology of 
the twentieth century back into the Scriptural data. . . . Other considerations, such as 
later revelation (e.g.. Rev 3:10) or contextual evidence, must be appealed to in order to 
make differentiations" (pp. 144-45). The general nature of Pauline eschatology, par- 
ticularly in 4: 13-5: 11, seems to be overlooked by both Edgar ("The Meaning of 'Sleep'," 
349) and Hodges ("The Rapture in 1 Thessalonians 5:1-11," 76) who suggest that 
objections to their understanding of 1 Thess 5:10 are frequently based on a posttribula- 
tional view of eschatology. However, that is beside the point if one understands Paul's 
description in 1 Thess 4:13-5:11 as a single eschatological event portrayed from two 
perspectives. For further discussion on the general nature of Pauline eschatology, see 
H. A. A. Kennedy, St. Paul's Conceptions of the Last Things (London: Hodder and 


(cf. 5:2). Therefore, it is important for the behever to be spiritually alert 
as he or she anticipates its arrival.'* Paul describes the believer's ethical 
responsibility in 5:6 through the use of three hortatory subjunctives: 
^f) Ka08u6a)|aev . . . ypriYopaJjiev . . . vf|(p(D|i8v / 'let us not sleep ... let 
us be alert ... let us be sober'. He also repeats vr|(pco),iev in v 8 with 
the sense of "let us be vigilant." In the context Paul desires that these 
believers not become spiritually insensible but be morally upright and 
maintain spiritual alertness. Why? Because the Parousia is both im- 
minent and sudden in its appearance. Thus to come down to v 10 and 
render Ka08i35a) as "spiritual insensibility" would negate everything 
Paul has said in vv 6, 8. If one did give KaOeuSco such a nuance, a 
paraphrase of v 10 might be, "although I desire you to maintain 
spiritual alertness in view of the imminent Parousia, Jesus died so 
that whether or not we are spiritually alert, we might still live with 
him." The weakening of the previous series of hortatory subjunctives 
is obvious. Bruce draws a similar conclusion when he writes, "It is 
ludicrous to suppose that the writers mean, 'Whether you live like 
sons of light or like sons of darkness, it will make little difference: 
you will be all right in the end.'"'^ Edgar recognizes this to be a 
problem, yet argues that the focus of v 10 is not on the issue of 
vigilance but the fact that the believer's hope depends on Christ's 
death, not on watchfulness.^" Hodges likewise says, "the apostle feh 
that the best way to stimulate a watchful spirit was to show that 'the 
hope of deliverance' could not be forfeited even by the believer's 
failure to watch for it."^' 1 do not for one moment question the fact 
that a genuine believer's hope is secure regardless of his watchfulness. 
However, I seriously doubt that is the meaning of v 10 in light of the 
preceding context. ^^ If Hodges is correct, why did Paul even give the 
series of ethical injunctions in vv 6 and 8? If the best way to motivate 
one to spiritual alertness is to show that his or her hope of deliverance 
could not be forfeited by a failure to watch, why then did not Paul 
begin v 6 with such a theological assertion? The reason is because the 

Stoughton, 1904); and W. Baird, "Pauline Eschatology in Hermeneutical Perspective," 
A^rS 17 (1970-71) 312-27. 

Paul introduces 1 Thess 5:6 with the strong inferential apa ouv; thus he exhorts 
(imperative) the believers to live out what they are (indicative) by virtue of their 
identity with Christ, namely, sons of light. 

F. F. Bruce, 1 & 2 Thessalonians (Word Biblical Commentary; Waco, Texas: 
Word, 1982) 114. 

'"Edgar, "The Meaning of 'Sleep'," 349. 

^'Hodges, "The Rapture in 1 Thessalonians 5: 1-11," 76. 

"D. Edmond Hiebert {The Thessalonian Epistles \C\\\cago: Moody Press, 1971] 
225-26) makes a similar evaluation when he writes, "while participation in the rapture 
will not be determined by any advanced spiritual attainments of believers but solely 
because of their union with Christ, that is not the point here." 



motivating factor for spiritual alertness is not that which Hodges 
suggests but is found in vv 2-5, namely, the imminent and sudden 
character of the Parousia of Jesus. This is clear from the dpa ouv 
which introduces v 6. Paul draws the strong inference that since the 
Parousia is imminent and sudden the believer should not be spiritually 
insensible but morally alert and vigilant (cf. vv 6, 8). 

Both Hodges and Edgar have overlooked the strong connection 
Paul makes between the coming Parousia/ Day of the Lord and the 
exhoration to moral alertness. They also, it seems, overlook this same 
connection elsewhere in the epistle. The relationship between escha- 
tology and ethics is quite clear in both 3:13 and 5:23. In both texts 
Paul prays that the Thessalonian believers might be "blameless" at 
the time of the Parousia." The imminent and sudden nature of the 
Parousia is the motivating factor for "blameless" behavior. This 
emphasis throughout the book as well as in 5:6, 8 thus makes it 
inconceivable that Paul uses KaGeuSco in 5:10 for "spiritual insensi- 

Structural and Literary Patterns 

I have already pointed out that 1 Thess 4:13-5:1 1 is one literary 
and theological unit. One of the reasons for this conclusion is the 
presence of an inclusio between 4:13-14 and 5:9-10 (see Chart 1). 
These texts serve to bracket the entire eschatological discourse and 
contain several stylistic and semantic parallels. 

Chart I 

1 Thess 4:13-14. 

1 Thess 5:9-1 1 

V 13 

Ttepi zojv Koifiojfieviov 

V 18 

V 14 £1 . . .'Irjaovi; dneOavev kcu 

dveair) . . . o deoQ 


dicTTou Jrjaov at,EV 
avv avrd) 

vv 15-17 (Explanatory/ Confirmatory) 

napaKaXeizE dXXrjXovQ 

(cf. vv 13-17) 

6 Oeoq 
Ifjaou XpioToO 
TOW dnoOavovTOQ urrep 

eiTE YpriYopdJ|iev 
avv avzoj ^TJocanEV 

napaKaAelzE dXAtjAovQ 

(cf. v 10) 

"The preposition ev is used in both texts to denote "the point of time when 
something occurs," cf. BAGD, 260; see also A. T. Robertson, A Gnammar of the Greek 
New Testament in the Light of Historical Research (Nashville: Broadman, 1934) 586-87. 
The preposition ev is used similarly in the phrase ev Tfj Tiapouaict (1 Cor 15:23; 1 Thess 
2:19; Phil 2:12; 1 John 2:28). 


Although all the parallels do not exhibit identical order and 
form, their semantic equivalence throughout strongly argues for in- 
tentional parallelism. In each passage the resurrection of the believing 
dead is connected to the death of Christ. Each text stresses the 
believer's presence "with Christ" (ouv autw). Each text asserts that 
Jesus is the intermediate agent through whom God performs the action 
(5ia . . . 'Ir|aou). Also God is the author of both actions (6 Geog d^ei 
and 6 Gsoc; eGexo). Furthermore, in vv 13-17 the major problem is 
the relation of the dead to the Parousia, i.e., vv 13-14 give the 
essential assertion, followed by an explanation in vv 15-17. Then v 18 
follows with an exhortation "to comfort one another." In the same 
manner, 1 Thess 5:9-10 reiterates the same promise of 4:13-17, i.e., 
the believer will live with Christ even if he or she has died prior to the 
Parousia, and then v 1 1 follows with a corresponding exhortation "to 
comfort one another." 

These parallels offer good reason for taking Paul's use of KaGeuSo) 
in 5:10 in the same way as his use of Koiiidw in 4:13-14, namely, a 
reference to those over whom the Thessalonian believers are grieving. 
In essence, Paul returns to his initial parenetic concern which he began 
in 4:13.^"* In 5:10 he answers the same question addressed in 4:13-17: 
does the one who dies in the Lord suffer any disadvantage at the 
Parousia? Paul answers that question in 4:13-17 with a resounding 
"no." He also answers it in 5:10 by assuring the Thessalonian believers 
that whether they live or whether they die, they would live with the 
Lord at his return. 

The Majority Opinion 

Although the "majority" opinion does not prove my conclusion 
regarding the meaning of KaGeuSco in 5:10, it cannot simply be dis- 
missed as inconsequential that the majority of lexicographers and 
commentators support the conclusion that KaGeuSco is a reference to 
physical death. ^^ Furthermore, when one surveys those who hold such 

^"Cf. Ellingworth and Nida, Paul's Letters to the Thessaloniam, 114; regarding 
Paul's use of KaGeuSco for "death" in 5:10, they write, "In this way he brings us back to 
4.13." Although they do not use the word, they support some kind of inclusio between 
4:13 and 5:10. 

"John W. Bailey, "The First and Second Epistles to the Thessalonians," (/5; 12 
vols.; Nashville: Abingdon, 1956) 11. 310; Ernest Best, A Commentary on the First and 
Second Epistle to the Thessalonians (New York: Harper and Row, 1972) 218-19; 
Bruce, 7 & 2 Thessalonians, 114-15; Charles J. Ellicott, Saint Paul's Epistle to 
the Thessalonians (London: Longman, 1880) 85; Ellingworth and Nida, Paul's Letters 
to the Thessalonians, 114; George G. Findlay, The Epistles to the Thessalonians 
(Cambridge: Cambridge University, 1891) 114; James E. Frame, A Critical and 
Exegetical Commentary on the Epistles to the Thessalonians (ICC; Edinburgh: Clark, 
reprint 1975) 190; Hiebert, The Thessalonian Epistles, 225-26; W. Kelly, The Epistles 

HOWARD: "sleep" IN 1 THESSALONIANS 5:10 347 

a position it is evident that they have not ignored either the lexical 
data or the immediate context as both Edgar and Hodges imply. ^^ 
Instead, after evaluating both the lexical and contextual data the 
conclusion is consistently drawn that the meaning of KaGeoSto in 1 Thess 
5:10 is "death." After evaluating the evidence inductively, I feel that 
on this issue the majority decision is correct. As a result, I also con- 
clude that Ypriyopeo) in 5:10 should be interpreted metaphorically as 
"alive" in order to achieve balance semantically with KaOeuSto in the 
grammatical construction.^^ 


The purpose of this article has been to reevaluate the meaning of 
Ka6eu5(i) in IThess 5:10. While the majority of commentators support 
the meaning of "death" a few recent interpreters have taken the verb 
to mean "spiritual insensibility." Indeed, the immediate context may 
suggest this, but the lexical, contextual, and literary evidence presented 
here argues strongly for taking KaOeuSco as a metaphor for death. 
This means that Paul is returning to the issue which is behind the 
entire eschatological discourse beginning in 4:13, namely, the future 

of Paul the Apostle to the Thessalonians (London: Hammond, 1953) 62; R. C. H. 
Lenski, The Interpretation of St. Paul's Epistles to the Colossians, to the Thessalonians, 
to Timothy, to Titus, and to Philemon (Minneapolis: Augsburg, 1937) 351; Marshall, 
/ and 2 Thessalonians. 141; George Milligan, Saint Paul's Epistles to the Thessalonians 
(Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1952) 70; James Moffatt, "The First and Second Epistles of 
Paul the Apostle to the Thessalonians," {The Expositor's Greek Testament; 5 vols.; 
Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, reprint 1979) 4. 40; Leon Morris, The First and Second 
Epistles to the Thessalonians (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1952) 187; and William Neil, 
The Epistle of Paul to the Thessalonians (New York: Harper and Brothers, 1950) 109; 
see also G. Abbott-Smith, A Manual Greek Lexicon of the New Testament (Edinburgh: 
Clark, 1937) 223; BAGD, 388; A. Oepke, "KaOeuSco" TDNT 3 (1965) 436; L. Coenen, 
"Sleep," NIDNTT, 1. 443; J. H. Thayer, Greek- English Lexicon of the New Testament 
(Grand Rapids: Zondervan, reprint 1962) 313. 

^^Edgar, "The Meaning of 'Sleep'," 345; and Hodges, "The Rapture in 1 Thessalo- 
nians 5:1-11," 76. 

"BAGD, 167; Baker, as previously noted (cf. n 15), cites the instance of ypriyopea) 
in 5:10 as an example of "subconscious repetition." He argues (p. 10) that if Paul had 
taken a little more time to choose the more proper word, he" would have used some 
form of ^do), a word used by Paul elsewhere to speak of physical life as contrasted with 
physical death (cf. Rom 6:10; 7:2, 3; 14:7-9; 1 Cor 7:39; 2 Cor 1:8; 4:1 1; 6:9; 13:4; Phil 
1:21, 22; 1 Thess 4:15-17; 2 Tim 4:1). However, while "subconscious repetition" may be 
a possible explanation of Paul's use of ypriyopea) in 5:10, other explanations are also 
possible such as an intentional word play with the preceding use of ypriyopew in 5:6 or 
even the attempt to avoid a redundancy with ^dco in the last phrase of 5:10 which says, 
"afia auv auxo) ^f|0(i)nev." If this is the case, ypriyopEm would take on the nuance of 
"physical life" whereas i^dca would refer more to "eschatological life with Christ at the 


of one who has died in the Lord. In 1 Thess 5:9-10 Paul gives the 
same response as he did in 4:13-17. He states that whether a believer 
is alive or dies he will not experience disadvantage at the Parousia 
but will live with Christ. Then Paul exhorts the believers in 5:1 1 to do 
the same thing he stated in 4:18, "therefore comfort one another." 

Grace TfieuloglcalJournal b.2 (]9&5) 349-360 


Galen W. Wiley 

The word "mystery" as it occurs in ancient Greek and Semitic 
sources, as well as in the NT, refers to a secret which is only revealed 
to certain individuals. In the NT it is God who reveals the mystery 
and faithful believers who perceive it. Carnal believers and unbelievers 
are not able to understand the mystery. The mystery centers around 
the Lordship of Christ who is the Life of the church. Although the 
mystery is opposed by Satan, it will be fully known to all in the end. 


THE word "mystery" (liuatripiov) occurs twenty-eight times' in the 
NT. Although there are passing references to it in commentaries, 
technical studies on the background of the word in the Greek mystery 
religions and in the Semitic world, and a few Roman Catholic works 
which discuss the word, "there is no comprehensive monograph on 
liuaifipiov."^ The present study will not fill this gap, but hopefully it 
will stir interest and provoke further study. 


The word liuatripiov can be translated "secret, secret rite, secret 
teaching, mystery." According to Bauer, it is used in the NT "to mean 
the secret thoughts, plans, and dispensations of God which are hidden 
from the human reason, as well as from all other comprehension 
below the divine level, and hence must be revealed to those for whom 
they are intended."^ However, to understand properly what this word 
meant in the early church it is necessary to explore its background. 

'The word occurs twenty-eight times if read in 1 Cor 2:1 with the support of p^^^'^ 
X* A C etc. However the reading napxupiov has broader support in K^ B D F G 4^, the 
Majority text, etc. 

^G. Bornkamm, 'VuatTipiov," TDNT 4 (1967) 802. 

'BAGD, 530. 


First, there has been much written about the similarities between 
the Greek mystery rehgions and the NT use of "mystery."'* The 
mystery rehgions had their roots in the Babylonian story of Ishtar 
and Tammuz/ They spread throughout the Roman empire and played 
a significant role in the Greek world from the seventh century B.C. to 
the fourth century a.d.^ Though there were many differences among 
the various mystery cults, four similarities existed: 1) cultic rites were 
performed by a circle of devotees to portray and to share in the 
destinies of a god, 2) only the initiated were allowed knowledge of 
these sacred rites, 3) the devotees were promised salvation by the 
dispensing of cosmic life, and 4) a vow of silence was placed on all 
devotees prohibiting the sharing of any information or sacred rites 
with the non-initiated.^ Since Paul grew up in Tarsus and was exposed 
to the culture of his day, he probably knew about these mystery 
religions.^ However, because of his Jewish training under Gamaliel in 
Jerusalem (Acts 22:3) and because of his conversion and subsequent 
revelations from Christ himself (Gal 1:12), he would not have adapted 
the concepts of the mystery religions to his new Christian faith. The 
vast differences between these two systems preclude this possibility.^ 

A second major use of this word was in everyday conversation. It 
was used to speak of a "private secret not to be indulged even to a 
friend, family secrets," medical mysteries, and of other things "that no 
one can understand.""^ In the philosophy of Plato and his followers, 
"the mysteries are not cultic actions but obscure and secret doctrines 
whose hidden wisdom may be understood only by those capable of 
knowledge."" The purpose of such philosophy was not to conceal the 
secrets as did the cults, but to guide people to understand them in 
their "symbolical appearance or concealment."'^ 

However, to appreciate Paul's understanding of "mystery," the 
word must be seen as it was used in Jewish contexts.'^ Muatripiov is 

"For studies on these similarities, see Bornkamm, "|iuoTr|piov,"4. 803-8; Richard 
Reitzenstein, Hellenistic Mystery Religions: Their Basic Ideas and Significance 
(Pittsburg: Pickwick, 1978); and Henry C. Sheldon, The Mystery Religions and the 
New Testament (New York: Abingdon, 1918). 

'Sheldon, Mystery Religions, 21. 

'Bornkamm, "nuaTr|piov,"4. 803. 

'ibid., 803-8. 

^Reitzenstein, Hellenistic Mystery Religion, 88. 

See Sheldon, Mystery Religions, 64-70, 155, for a discussion of differences and 
his conclusion that there was no adapting from the one to the other. 

'"Bornkamm, "|iVJOTfipiov," 810-11. 

"ibid., 808. 

"ibid., 809. 

"For studies on this, see ibid., 4. 813-17; Raymond E. Brown, The Semitic 
Background of the New Testament (Philadelphia: Fortress, 1968); and Joseph A. 
Robinson, St. Paul's Epistle to the Ephesians (London: MacMillan & Co., 1904) 

WILEY: "mystery" in the new testament 351 

not used by the LXX to translate any Hebrew word in the canonical 
books of the OT.'" However, it is used eight times in Daniel (2:18, 19, 
27, 28, 29, 30, 47, 47) to translate the Aramaic word n / 'secret''^ in 
reference to Nebuchadnezzar's dream and Daniel's interpretation of 
it.'^ It is God "who reveals mysteries, and has made known . . . what 
will take place in the latter days" (Dan 2:28).'^ The Hebrew word, 110 / 
'council, counsel, secret counsel''* (used twenty-two times in the 
OT) gives an important background to the biblical concept of mystery. 
The word is used in the OT of a heavenly council composed of 
an assembly of angels presided over by Yahweh (e.g.. Gen 1:26; 
Job 1:6-12; Ps 82:1) or to the "secrets or mysteries" that were de- 
cided at these heavenly councils. Prophets were allowed to "see" 
these heavenly assemblies and the decisions rendered there (see, e.g., 
1 Kgs 22:19-22; Job 15:8; Isa 6:1-13; Jer 23:18, 22; Amos 3:7; 
Zech 3:1).'^ Thus, the OT refers to a concept of "mystery" as divine 
secrets that can be known and understood only if God reveals them 
to his people through a prophet. 

Furthermore, Jewish apocalyptic writings in the intertestamental 
period made extensive use of this concept of "mystery" both for 
secular uses and also for divine mysteries as "hidden realities which 
are prepared (Eth. En. 9:6) and kept in heaven, and disclosed and 
shown to the enraptured seer as he wanders through the heavenly 
spheres under the guidance of an angel. "^^ It is also significant that in 
the Qumran literature of the first century B.C. the idea of "mysteries" 
plays an important role both in the mysteries of divine providence 
and also in the particular interpretation of the law developed by the 
community.^' After his study of Jewish literature prior to the NT, 
Raymond Brown concluded that there are "from the Semitic world 
good parallels in thought and word for virtually every facet of the NT 
use of mystery. . . . Paul and the NT writers could have written every- 
thing they did about mysterion whether or not they ever encountered 
the pagan mystery religions. "^^ 

The concepts of "mystery" as used in these sources are more or 
less similar to the NT use of (luotripiov to speak of divine secrets that 
are known only to God and to those to whom he chooses to reveal 
them. Apart from God's revelation, it would be impossible for human 

Robinson, Ephesians, 234. 
"BDB, 1112. 

'* Robinson, Ephesians, 234. 
^^ NASB. Later translations are the author's. 
'*BDB, 691. 

"Brown, Semitic Background, 2-6. 
'°Bornkamm, "nuoTtipiov," 4. 815. 
^' Brown, Semitic Background, 22-28. 
^^Brown, Semitic Background, 69. 


beings to comprehend any of God's mysteries. With this prehminary 
understanding of the word, it is now possible to explore the NT use 
of the word. 


When Christ first alluded to the mystery in his kingdom parables 
(Matt 13:11), he said he was proclaiming "things hidden since the 
foundation of the world" (Matt 13:35). Paul said that the mystery had 
been "kept secret from long ages past" (Rom 16:25; cf. 1 Cor 2:7; 
Eph 3:5, 9; Col 1:26). The mystery may have been obliquely alluded 
to in the OT, but there were no clear statements or prophecies regard- 
ing it. It could not be known naturally and was kept secret since the 
foundation of the world until finally revealed by God in NT times. 


The primary revelation of the mystery came through the apostles 
and prophets. However, it was Jesus who first spoke of the mystery in 
a series of parables recorded in Matthew 13, Mark 4, and Luke 8. 
Jesus intentionally presented the mystery in parabolic form so that 
only the disciples (and possibly other true believers) would understand 
(Matt 13:10-11, 13,34-35). 

But it was through Paul and the other early apostles and prophets 
that God fully revealed the mystery. Paul wrote to the Romans of 
a mystery that "had now been made manifest" (Rom 16:26). In 
Ephesians Paul referred to the fact that "the mystery has been made 
known to me by revelation" (3:3) and that it "now has been revealed 
to His holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit" (3:5). In Col 1:26 
Paul declared that this hidden mystery "has now been revealed to His 
saints." In one sense Paul felt a unique burden as the sei^ant entrusted 
to proclaim the mystery (1 Cor 4:1; Eph 3:2-9; 6:19-20; Col 4:3-4), 
but yet he also realized that the mystery had also been revealed to 
other apostles and prophets. In fact, in 1 Cor 2:6-16 Paul included 
the Corinthian believers with himself as those who had received the 
Spirit of God so that they all might know the mysterious things freely 
revealed by God^' (cf. Eph 3:5). 

"it is debatable whether Paul is including the Corinthian believers with himself in 
this passage. Some suggest Paul is referring only to himself and other apostles and 
prophets. However, 1 believe that Paul is referring to all believers, not just a select 
group, because of the way Paul uses the first person singular to speak of himself (1:10, 
1 1, 12, 14, 15, 16, 17; 2:1, 2, 3, 4, 5), second person plural to refer to the Corinthians 
(1:3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 10, 11, 12, 14, 26, 30; 2:1, 2, 3, 5), and first person plural to include 
both the Corinthians and himself (1:2, 3, 9, 10, 18, 23, 30; 2:6, 7, 9, 10, 12, 13, 16). Paul 
in chap. 3 then returns again to first person singular and second person plural to 

WILEY: "mystery" in the new testament 353 

There are several important conclusions to draw from these pas- 
sages. First, by the time that Paul was writing, the mystery had 
already been revealed. Second, God has uniquely revealed his mystery 
to his apostles and prophets and through them to his saints. The 
world cannot understand the mystery because it can only be discerned 
with the help of the Spirit (1 Cor 2:14). A third conclusion is that 
although some may possess a special role of revealing the truths of 
the mystery, knowledge of those truths is equally available to all who 
possess God's Holy Spirit — knowledge of the mystery is not the ex- 
clusive property of the clergy. 


Even though the mystery has been revealed to the NT church 
through the apostles and prophets, it nevertheless remains somewhat 
mysterious. This is because some "hear and understand" while others 
do not. 

In Matt 13:10-17 Jesus chose to introduce the previously hidden 
mystery of the kingdom (13:11, 35) in a manner which bewildered 
even his disciples (13:10). He said that he was speaking in parables so 
that the multitudes could not understand what he was teaching his 
disciples. Therefore, in the first NT revelation of the mystery, Jesus 
taught that it was mysterious not only because it was never revealed 
before but also because it could be understood only by those to 
whom the Father revealed it. 

Paul also spoke of this principle in Rom 1 1:25 when he discussed 
the mystery of Israel. In Romans 9-1 1 Paul described various aspects 
of the mystery including the partial hardening of Israel, the grafting 
in of the Gentiles, and the ultimate salvation of Israel when the 
fullness of the Gentiles has come in (1 1:25). However, Paul presented 
this mystery with a warning — "in order that you may not be wise in 
your own estimation." If God would cut off his own chosen people 
because they hardened their heart, how much more would he cut off a 
Gentile who would follow that same pattern (Rom 11:18-22)? The 
essential issue which divided those who stood and those who fell was 
faith in Jesus Christ. Those who try to achieve righteousness through 
the works of law will fall. But those who live by faith will discover true 
righteousness and will never be ashamed nor disappointed (Rom 9:30- 
10:4). The mystery divides both Jews and Gentiles into two groups — 
those who receive Christ by faith and those who do not receive him. 

distinguish himself from the Corinthians (3:1, 2, 3, 4, 6, 10) then first plural to include 
himself with them (3:9-10). 


Paul drew this distinction even further in 1 Cor 2:7 where he 
discussed the wisdom of God that is contained in the "mystery which 
has been hidden, which God predestined before the ages to our glory." 
In this context he distinguished between the believer who has received 
this mystery/ wisdom (2:9-13, 15-16) and the natural man or un- 
believer who cannot receive or know it (2:14). But he also distinguished 
between the mature believer (2:6) and the carnal believer (3:1-4). 
Every believer has received the mystery because he has received the 
Holy Spirit. However, all believers do not respond to the mystery 
with complete devotion. Paul said in 2:6-7 that "we speak wisdom 
among the mature." The word "mature" (xeXeioc,) is used consistently 
in the NT of those who are spiritually grown up, no longer spiritual 
infants tossed back and forth all the time.^'* Among them Paul could 
go beyond the basic gospel of "Jesus Christ and Him crucified" 
(1 Cor 2:2) and beyond the "beginning of the doctrine of Christ" 
(Heb 6:1). He could lead them by the help of the Spirit to develop the 
very mind of Christ (2:16). In contrast, Paul had to keep feeding the 
carnal believers at Corinth the "milk" of the Word (not the "meat") 
because they were spiritual babies (1 Cor 3:1-4). So in this passage 
Paul delineates three groups in relation to the mystery: 1) the natural 
man who does not and cannot receive nor understand the mystery of 
God, 2) the carnal believer who can understand the mystery but will 
not because he still desires to live by the flesh in the ways of men, and 
3) the mature believer who can and does understand the mystery 
wisdom of God, being instructed by the Holy Spirit. 

It may be concluded from these passages that certain aspects of 
NT revelation remain mysterious to all but those who receive them by 
faith and humbly apply them in their lives. Therefore, in under- 
standing "mystery" in the NT it is necessary to note not only the 
element of something hidden in the mind of God and thus unknowable 
until God reveals it but also the element that it remains hidden to 
those who refuse to yield themselves in faith to Jesus Christ. This is a 
very sobering reality. There was a whole generation of Jews in the 
day of Christ who knew the Scriptures, but their hearts were so hard 
that they completely missed the mystery and crucified the Messiah. 
God cut them off in spite of their desire to be obedient to the law. 
Even so today there are millions on their way to hell in spite of their 
good works and their obedience to their church. Though they have 
read the Bible and heard countless messages, they have missed the NT 
mystery of salvation through faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. 
Equally sobering is the realization that even believers who possess the 
full potential of knowing the mystery of God sometimes live devoid 

''E.g., Matt 5:48; Eph 4:13; Phil 3:15; Col 1:28; 4:12; Heb 5:14; Jas 1:4; 3:2. 

WILEY: "mystery" in the new testament 355 

of its glory at work in their lives. God has given the mystery for glory 
and enjoyment. But it is an individual choice whether or not to receive 
it. God is sovereign, and he has ordained to give it only to those who 
receive it in his way. 


The twenty-eight passages that employ the word "mystery" use 
the word in a complex manner. Sometimes one particular truth is in 
view, but at other times many truths are included. Sometimes the 
emphasis is upon doctrine, but at other times great truths of Christian 
living are stressed. 

In many ways the NT mystery seems to focus on one particular 
subject: the person and work of Jesus Christ. However, the focus is 
not on his coming to be the Jewish Messiah, for that was clearly 
prophesied and expected. Neither does it focus on the salvation of the 
Gentiles, for that too was clearly prophesied according to Paul.^^ 
Rather the focus of the NT mystery seems to be that this Jesus is not 
only Messiah and Savior, but that he is also Lord and the only life 
for both Jews and Gentiles. The NT mystery that caused the Jewish 
nation to stumble and that still causes so many to stumble is twofold: 
1) that Jesus Christ is not only man but also God who is now exalted 
as Lord of the universe and 2) that the only way of salvation and life 
is faith in Jesus Christ as our life. These two NT truths were not 
revealed in the OT and constitute the dividing line between eternal 
life and eternal death in the matter of salvation and between spiritual 
victory and spiritual defeat in the matter of the Christian life. 

The two passages that define this mystery most clearly are Eph 1 :9- 
10 and Col 1:26-2:3. In Eph 1:9-10 Paul declared that the mystery of 
God's will is that all things are to be brought together under the 
headship of Christ. God has now seated Christ in the heavenlies at his 
own right hand and put all things under his feet (Eph 1:19-23). Christ 
has now been crowned as Lord of all and someday he will exercise 
that Lordship and destroy all who resist his sovereign rule. Yet 
presently he is patiently allowing mankind to bow voluntarily before 
himself as Lord and thus become a part of his eternal kingdom. ^'' 

In Col 1:26-2:3 Paul summarizes the mystery simply as "Christ 
in you, the hope of glory" (1:27) and then simply as "Christ, in whom 
all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge are hidden" (2:2-3). It is 
in Christ that believers are perfected (1:28); it is by his power that 

''See, e.g.. Acts 15:13-18; Rom 9:24-29; 10:19-20. 

"*For other passages on the Lordship of Christ see Acts 2:32-36; Rom 10:9-10; 
1 Cor 12:3; 15:24-28; Phil 2:9-11; Col 1:14-20; Heb 1:1-14; 2:5-8; Rev 11:15-19; 
19:11-21; 20:1-15; 22:1, 3, 5. 


they serve (1:29); it is by faith in him that they walk (2:5-7), and it is 
in him that they have been made complete (2:10). Put simply, salvation 
is all a work of Jesus Christ who is the head of all rule and authority. 
The believer's hope of glory is all in Jesus and through his life in us. 
The "mystery" of the Christian life is that Christ empowers and works 
in and through believers as they live by faith and obedience. ^^ All of 
this was kept hidden in the OT. Thus, it may be concluded that the 
best definition of the NT mystery is that Jesus Christ is now exalted 
both as Lord of all and also as the believer's only Life. 

However, though the focus of the mystery is Christ, there are 
many facets of that mystery that all blend together to comprise its 
fullness. Matt 13:11 and the parallels speak of the mysteries of the 
kingdom, but the focus is on the King and the various ways people 
will respond to Jesus Christ as their Lord and Life. Rom 1 1:25 speaks 
of the mystery of God's temporary rejection and future restoration 
of Israel, but the basis of both is again on how they respond to 
Jesus Christ, the stumblingstone and rock of offense (Rom 9:32-33). 
Rom 16:25-26 simply refers to the mystery without definition (but 
cf. 1 1:25) and lists it as part of the basis upon which God is able to 
establish believers. 1 Cor 2:1, 7 describes the mystery as the wisdom 
of God contrasted with the wisdom of men. Paul further describes the 
wisdom of God as Jesus Christ and him crucified (1:23-25, 30; 2:1-5). 
In 1 Cor 4:1; 13:2; 14:2 Paul refers to his responsibility to administer 
and the Corinthians' ability to understand and communicate the 
mystery. 1 Cor 15:51 introduces the mystery of future resurrection 
with an eternal body, but again the basis of this blessed hope is the 
resurrection, exaltation, and present ministry of Christ. 

Mystery is repeatedly mentioned in Ephesians and Colossians. 
Eph 1 :9- 10 describes the mystery of God's will as the absolute Lordship 
of Christ. Eph 3:3, 4, and 9 emphasize the salvation of the Gentiles, 
and especially the fact that now both Jews and Gentiles are saved by 
faith in Jesus Christ and become fellow members of his body (cf. 
Eph 2:4-22). The salvation of the Gentiles was known from OT 
Scripture (cf. Matt 4:14:16; Luke 2:30-32; Acts 15:13-18; Rom 9:24- 
29; 10:18-21; 15:8-12), so Gentile salvation in itself would not be the 
mystery "which has been hidden from the ages in God" (Eph 3:9). 
Rather the mystery is that now all nations are invited alike to share 
equally in God's grace through Jesus Christ as their Lord and Life. 
Eph 5:32 describes the mystery of the union of Christ and the church 
as similar to the one-flesh union of husband and wife. Here it is seen 
again that the life of the church is totally based in his life, "for we are 

"For other passages on the Life of Christ see John "15:1-16; Romans 6-8; 
Gal 2:16-5:26; Eph 4:7-16; Phil 3:1-15; Col 3:1-17; Heb 4:9-11. 

WILEY: "mystery" in the new testament 357 

members of His body" (Eph 5:30). Col 1:26-27; 2:2 clearly present 
the mystery as the person and work of Christ as the only basis for the 
believer's life. In Eph 6:19 and Col 4:3 Paul speaks of the "mystery of 
the gospel" and "the mystery of Christ" as the basis of his whole 
ministry and proclamation (content in both places would have been 
defined by the earlier references in Eph 1:9-10; Col 1:26-27 and 2:2). 

In the pastoral epistles mystery becomes an object of faith and 
the substance of true godliness. 1 Tim 3:9 demands that deacons must 
hold "the mystery of the faith in a pure conscience." In 3:16 Paul says 
true godliness is produced by the great mystery. This mystery concerns 
the person and work of Christ, "who was revealed in flesh, justified in 
Spirit, seen by angels, proclaimed among nations, believed on in 
world, and taken up in glory." 

Mystery also occurs in the book of Revelation. Rev 1:20 pictures 
the mystery of Christ standing among his churches which are troubled, 
persecuted, or seemingly self-sufficient. Each church receives counsel 
from him who is its Head and Life. Rev 10:7 describes a time when 
"the mystery of God shall be finished." Evidently this is when Christ 
will return and establish his kingdom. 

The common thread that links all these passages together is the 
person and work of Jesus Christ. In particular his exaltation to be 
Lord of all is emphasized as the only basis for spiritual life and 
victory. Though there are many facets, the mystery is one. 

It is also important to realize that though mystery emphasizes 
doctrine, it also presents profound truths for Christian living. The 
mystery can be understood only by those who receive it by faith and 
apply it in their lives. In one sense even the demons can know and 
"believe" these facts about Jesus Christ (Jas 2:19). Even so there are 
many today who recognize that Jesus is Lord, yet they refuse to bow 
the knee and personally accept him as Lord. But there is also the 
danger that a person could truly receive Jesus Christ as his Lord but 
continue to live a shallow, carnal life. In fact, this may be one of the 
greatest dangers in the church today. ^^ Though the mystery contains 
simple truths that "everybody knows," it also demands a lifestyle 
which is consistent with its truths. 

This much can be concluded about the mystery. First, everything 
about it focuses on the person and the work of Jesus Christ, in 
particular on his Lordship and his being the very Life of the believer. 
These truths were not revealed in the OT. Second, though these truths 
seem simple and basic, they are the foundation of the Christian life. 
They challenge every believer regardless of his level of maturity. Jesus 
Christ must really be Lord of all in our attitudes, relationships, words, 

'^See Man 7:24-27; James 1:22-26; 2:14-26 for particular warnings on this danger. 


ethical decisions, and thoughts. If He is not Lord over all of one's life, |j 
there is still much more to learn concerning the mystery of Jesus " 


Once the mystery is clearly identified as the very will of him who 
works all things after his own counsel (Eph 1:9, 11), it should come as 
no surprise that Satan opposes the mystery and any who would seek 
to live it. Jesus taught this in the parable of the soils (Matt 13:3-9, 
18-23). Paul said in 1 Cor 2:6-8 that Satan so manipulated the rulers 
of this world that they crucified Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, 
because they did not know the mystery. In Eph 6:19-20 and Col 4:3-4 
Paul viewed his imprisonment as a direct result of Satan's opposition 
to his proclamation of the mystery. Satan is still resisting the procla- 
mation of the mystery. He is still blinding the minds of unbelievers so 
that the gospel will remain hidden to them (2 Cor 4:3-4). He is still 
doing all he can to keep believers from bowing fully before Jesus as 
Lord and from living in the fullness of His life. 

At the time of the end when Jesus Christ is about ready to assume 
his full Lordship over the earth, Satan will expose a masterpiece 
of deception, a counterfeit mystery. According to 2 Thess 2:1-12, 
Satan will empower the antichrist to lead one final world rebellion 
against God and Jesus Christ as Lord. This "man of lawlessness" who 
will lead the world in rebellion against God will be the embodiment of 
the "mystery of lawlessness" (2:7). This counterfeit is already at work 
in the present age but it will culminate then. God's mystery requires 
absolute submission to Jesus Christ as Lord and Life. Satan's mystery is 
absolute lawlessness against that rule and that life. Rev 17:5, 7 
indicates that the antichrist will unite with the false religious system of 
that day. The union is symbolically called "the mystery of the woman 
and the beast that carried her" (v 7). This counterfeits the biblical 
picture of Christ and the church as husband and wife (Eph 5:32). 

One may conclude from this that the more one seeks to under- 
stand and apply the NT mystery, the more he should expect Satanic 
opposition and attack (e.g. Eph 6:10-12). Unbelievers and carnal 
believers will not experience such Satanic opposition. Satanic oppo- 
sition may be disguised as doubts, fears, or temptations. It may 
come as open persecution. It may subtly come as exciting oppor- 
tunities and busy schedules which may be misused. One thing is 
certain — opposition will come. But God is "able to establish us . . . 
according to the revelation of the mystery" (Rom 16:25). 


The same Jesus who introduced the NT mystery in his parables 
of the kingdom also revealed to John that the day would come when 

WILEY: "mystery" in the new testament 359 

the mystery would finally be resolved and finished. Rev 10:7 indicates 
that there will be a day when "the mystery of God is finished." This 
will occur during the days of the voice of the seventh angel. Rev 11:15 
indicates that the voices in heaven will then say, "The kingdom of the 
world has become that of our Lord and His Christ, and He shall 
reign forever and ever." Thus the mysteriousness of the mystery will 
be removed at the end of the tribulation, when Christ shall return, 
defeat his enemies, and establish his perfect kingdom as "King of 
kings and Lord of lords" (Rev 19: 16). Then the mystery will be visible 
to all. All will see and acknowledge Jesus Christ as Lord and Life, or 
they will be cut off and removed. The mysterious element will be 
removed, and the full reality will be revealed and realized. Then 
Christ will be Lord and Life of all men. Though there will be a brief 
rebellion at the end of this thousand-year earthly kingdom (Rev 20: 1 1- 
13), there will be a final battle when Christ will remove all evil from 
the earth. He will cast Satan, his demons, all unbelievers, and death 
and hell into the lake of fire for eternal punishment (Rev 20:10, 14). 
Then there will be a new heaven and a new earth where the Father 
and the Son will rule forever (Rev 22:1, 3, 5). Thus the resolution or 
completion of the mystery will come. 


It is fitting to conclude with the mystery of Christ among the 
churches (Rev 1:20). Jesus' analysis of the church at Laodicea is 
especially relevant. He described a church which claimed great wealth 
and self-sufficiency. In many ways this description fits the affluent, 
educated, program-oriented church of the twentieth century in 
America. But yet as Jesus analyzed the Laodicean church, he saw 
past all the glory and glitter to a church that on the inside was truly 
hurting, "wretched and pitiable and poor and blind and naked" 
(Rev 3:17). It sickened him to see a church with such great potential 
so totally self-deceived and devoid of real power. Though the church 
still confessed the doctrinal content of the mystery, its power and 
reality were lacking in daily life. Possibly much of the church today in 
America is in a similar situation. 

To the Laodiceans and to the church in America Christ counseled, 
"Buy of Me gold that has been purified by fire in order that you may 
be rich, and white garments in order that you may clothe yourself and 
the shame of your nakedness may not appear, and eyesalve to anoint 
your eyes in order that you may see" (Rev 3:18). The greatest need of 
the church is not bigger buildings, fatter budgets, sharper programs, 
or better preachers. It is simply a rediscovery of the riches that are 
ours when we bow totally before Jesus as Lord and then rise to live 
the fulness of his life in the power of the Holy Spirit. It is his riches, 


his righteousness, and his wisdom that is needed. Then the buildings, 
the budgets, the programs, and the pastors will burst forth with life 
and power. "He that has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit is saying 
to the churches" (Rev 3:21). 

Grace Theological Journal 6.2 (1985) 361-371 





There is an acute crisis for preaching today, due in part to a 
fragmentizing of Christian ministry into various specialized profes- 
sions without the integrating input of theological training. Preparation 
for pulpit ministry should be a high priority in the design of seminary 
curriculums. Training for such ministry must cultivate a theistic 
mentality, a correct methodology, and a balanced motivation. 


ARE seminaries preparing prospective pastors to preach the Word 
of God? I beUeve that valid criticism has been leveled against 
contemporary preaching. Since theological seminaries are the primary 
agencies for training ministerial students, they must bear the brunt of 
this criticism and take steps to correct the problem. 

Several preliminary comments are in order. First, my concern is 
with evangelical seminaries. The evangelical community looks to these 
schools to provide the education essential for the task of preaching 
the Word of God (cf. 2 Tim 4:2). It must be insisted, however, that 
mere academic training cannot guarantee proper preaching of the 
Word of God. Preaching the Word is more than simply learning the 
technique of sermon preparation in a homiletics class. While the skill 
of communication can be taught in class, effective preaching depends 
upon the work of the Holy Spirit. Sittler evidently had this in mind 
when he wrote, "the expectation must not be cherished that, save for 
the modest and obvious instruction about voice, pace, organization, 
and such matters, preaching as a lively art of the church can be 
taught at all. . . . Disciplines correlative to preaching can be taught, 
but preaching as an act of witness cannot be taught."' Therefore, 

'Joseph Sittler, The Anguish o/P/rat ///a?.? (Philadelphia: Fortress, 1966) 7. 


evangelical seminaries must offer an academic program that has the 
potential to cultivate a profound reverence for preaching in the power 
of the Holy Spirit. Such reverence may be cultivated by a curriculum 
centered around the Bible and Christ. 

It is my hope that this essay will stimulate further study on the 
place of preaching in the evangelical seminary. Areas for research 
may be in constructive criticism of the pulpit ministry, the priority of 
the pulpit ministry in the local church setting, and the training for the 
pulpit ministry. 


Sittler States, "Preaching is in trouble everywhere."^ He adds, 
"Of course preaching is in trouble. Whence did we ever manufacture 
the assumption that it was ever to be anything but trouble?"^ 
Preaching has seldom experienced the luxury of praise. This fact has 
been well-documented by numerous books related to the subject of 
preaching. Fant underscores this point by noting that no generation 
of preachers has escaped criticism, for even during the so-called 
Golden Age of Preaching when Liddon, Spurgeon, Parker, Beecher, 
MacLaren and Brooks were at the height of their careers, Mahaffy 
wrote The Decay of Preaching in 1882." Fant concludes, "every aspect 
of preaching is under attack today just as it always has been from the 
beginning. ... No age of pulpit proclamation has ever escaped heavy 

However, the current crisis in the pulpit ministry is particularly 
acute. ^ Kaiser comments. 

It is no secret that Christ's Church is not at all in good health in many 
places of the world. She has been languishing because she has been fed, 
as the current line has it, "junk food"; all kinds of artificial preserva- 
tives and all sorts of unnatural substitutes have been served up to her. 
As a result, theological and Biblical malnutrition has afflicted the very 
generation that has taken such giant steps to make sure its physical 
health is not damaged by using foods or products that are carcinogenic 
or otherwise harmful to their physical bodies. Simultaneously a world- 
wide spiritual famine resulting from the absence of any genuine publi- 

-Ibid.. 26. 

'ibid., 27. 

■^Clyde E. Fant, Preaching for Toc/ai' (Philadephia: Fortress, 1966) 5. 

'Ibid., 9. 

*Cf. Chevis F. Home, Crisis in the Pulpit (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1975) 15: "the 
present crisis may be the most serious preaching has had to face in the whole history of 
the church." 

kurtaneck: are seminaries preparing pastors? 363 

cation of the Word of God (Amos 8:11) continues to run wild and 
almost unabated in most quarters of the Church.^ 

The crisis is real; nevertheless as Fant said, one must be careful 
"to make sure [preaching] is in trouble for the right reasons."* 
Criticism of the church and the pulpit ministry by unbelievers is to be 
expected. It is the criticism from within the church that is the real 
concern. As Craddock states. 

The alarm felt by those of us still concerned about preaching is not a 
response solely to the noise outside in the street where public disfavor 
and ridicule have been heaped upon the pulpit. . . . More disturbing 
has been the nature and character of those who have been witnesses for 
the prosecution. Increasingly, the brows that frown upon the pulpit are 
not only intelligent, but often theologically informed, and quite often 
deeply concerned about the Christian mission.' 

He goes on to say, 

the major cause for alarm is not the broadside from the public, nor the 
sniping from classroom sharpshooters, but the increasing number who 
are going AWOL from the pulpit. Some of these men move into forms 
of the ministry that carry no expectation of a sermon, or out of the 
ministry altogether. In addition, there are countless others who con- 
tinue to preach, not because they regard it as an effective instrument of 
the church but because of the combined force of professional momen- 
tum and congregational demand. ... It is the opinion of many con- 
cerned Christians, some who give the sermon and some who hear it, 
that preaching is an anachronism.'" 

Craddock focuses attention on the seminaries in his examination of 
the problem. He notes that some seminaries offer little work in 
homiletics and that there is, "in some quarters, a serious reexamina- 
tion of the wisdom of having instruction in preaching as a separate 
curriculum item" because "preaching so taught has its form defined 
not by the content of the Gospel nor the nature of Christian faith but 
by Greek rhetoric."" 

This last point is worth noting, for the crisis is not merely over 
preaching, but rather over the preaching of the Word. Will preaching 

'Walter C. Kaiser. Toward an Exegetical Theology {Grand Rapids: Baker, 1981) 

Fant, Preaching for Today, 10. 

'Fred B. Craddock, As One Without Authority (Enid: Phillip University, 1975) 

'"Ibid.. 2. 

"ibid., 3. 


survive the humanistic influences which press pastors to moderate 
and compromise the bibUcal message? Should preachers accommodate 
preaching to fit the model of Lifton's "Protean man," who like the 
Greek god Proteus alter their shape to conform to any situation?'^ 
Evangelical seminaries need to shoulder the responsibility of seeing 
that these questions are answered properly. However, there is doubt 
as to whether the seminaries are doing the job. Guelich, writing in 
sympathy with Ladd's convictions, states, 

the primary task of the pastor is to be a minister of the Word. I am 
also convinced that such a ministry is what the church is in desperate 
need of today. Rather than preparing men and women to be ministers 
of the church, ministers of youth, ministers of counseling, ministers of 
outreach, and even ministers of Christian education, as indispensable 
as these all are, the primary task of seminary education should be to 
prepare ministers of the Word.'^ 

Guelich believes that seminaries have failed in this primary task.'"* He 
laments the fact that theological education has been fragmented into 
various specialties that do not involve preaching the Word. He con- 
cludes that the anemia of the church today "is not lack of ministers 
but a dearth of ministers of the Word."'^ 

Farley also criticizes the seminaries because theology "has long 
since disappeared as the unity, subject matter, and end of clergy 
education and this disappearance is responsible more than anything 
else for the problematic character of that education as a course of 
study."'^ In the process of fragmenting theological education, emphasis 
upon the ministry of the Word has been eclipsed, and in some cases, 
sidelined as an antiquarian oddity. Seminaries have allowed their 
curriculums to be modeled according to specialized professions to the 
point that "present-day theological schools simply cannot provide a 
theological education."'^ Evangelical seminaries must not allow this 
trend to continue. They must make certain that preparation for the 
ministry of the Word is given top priority. 


Just as the ministry of the Word ought to be given top priority in 
seminary education, the pulpit ministry ought to be given top priority 

'^Wallace E. Fisher, IVho Dares to Preach? (Minneapolis: Augsburg, 1979) 24-25. 

'^Robert A. Guelich, "On Becoming a Minister of the Word," Theology News and 
yVo/f5 30:2 (1983) 8. 

'""Cf. Ibid., "theological education has increasingly abandoned the task of prepar- 
ing ministers of the Word." 

'^Ibid.. 11. 

""Edward Farley, TTj^'o/og/o (Philadelphia: Fortres, 1983) ix. 

"ibid., 14. 

kurtaneck: are seminaries preparing pastors.' 365 

in the ministry of the pastor.'* This ministry should be the catalyst of 
all church functions and the guiding light of all church activities. 
Preaching is the primary method ordained by Christ to build his 
church (Matt 28:18-20). 

However, is it mandatory that a pastor preach the Word on 
every occasion of public worship? Evans has answered this question 
in the negative. Evans believes that "the common practice today of a 
clergyman preaching a sermon to a passive audience seems to have its 
origin in tradition (and/ or expedience) rather than in a scriptural 
pattern." '^ He believes that because "monologic" preaching causes a 
detrimental congregational passivity, a pastor should vary the worship 
service to include audience participation. He states, "occasion may 
necessitate a strong sermon of exhortation, refutation or teaching, 
but there are no biblical grounds for a tradition that tends to dis- 
courage congregational activity in worship and ministry. "^° In his 
discussion of 2 Tim 4:2, Evans points to the aorist tense of the verbs 
in the exhortation to Timothy. He says. 

The verb, keryxon, is the first of five aorist imperatives. Had the author 
meant 'be preaching all the time,' one would have expected a present 
imperative instead. The other imperatives — 'reprove,' 'rebuke,' and so 
on — are aorists and not present tenses because what the author wants 
the young pastor to do is to reprove when necessary, rebuke when 
necessary, and so forth. Likewise with 'proclaiming the word': On occa- 
sion as a minister he must herald the (authentic) gospel. In these 
'pastoral' epistles the apostle warns against heresy in doctrine as well as 
in practice. Just as Timothy must occasionally rebuke one whose be- 
havior is wrong, so must he proclaim the apostolic gospel when heresy 
threatens it."' 

Rather than preaching, Evans would prefer that opportunity be given 
for each saint to excercise his spiritual gift in the worship services of 
the church. 

Several points raised by Evans may be disputed, however. It is 
true that saints ought to be given opportunity to excercise their 
spiritual gifts, but is the worship service of the church the proper time 
for this to be done? Presumably, the pastor has the gift of preaching 
and teaching the Word, while others in the church have gifts related 
to other functions in the total ministry of the local church. Therefore, 
it would be expected that the pastoral gift of teaching should be 

Cf. the remark of Guelich ("On Becoming a Minister," 1 1) who says, "the primary 
task of the pastor is to be a minister of the Word." 

Craig A. Evans, "Preacher and Preaching: Some Lexical Observations," yfTS 24 

'"Ibid., 322. 
"ibid., 318. 


exercised at the time of public worship. Further, Evans' treatment of 
the aorist imperatives in 2 Tim 4:2 is questionable. According to 
Dana and Mantey, "the fundamental significance of the aorist is to 
denote action simply as occurring, without reference to progress. . . . 
The aorist signifies nothing as to completeness, but simply presents 
the action as attained. It states the fact of the action or event without 
regard to its duration."^' Hence, the point of the aorist imperatives in 
2 Tim 4:2 is to emphasize the act of preaching, reproving, rebuking, 
etc., not the duration of the act. Paul says the act of preaching should 
be performed "in season" and "out of season" (phrases, interestingly 
enough, that Evans does not discuss). These phrases indicate that 
preaching the Word is always in vogue. A pastor, as Chrysostom 
said, should not ask, "is this a suitable occasion for preaching?" but 
rather, "Why should not this be a suitable occasion?""^ Surely the 
worship service of the church is a suitable occasion for preaching. 
Further, the reproving, rebuking, and exhorting of 2 Tim 4:2 are 
specific facets of the more general command to preach the Word. At 
least some of these activities are always present in proper preaching 
and should not be separated from the general command. Also, Paul 
did not exhort Timothy to rebuke heresy when it came, but rather to 
preach the Word in view of the coming apostasy (2 Tim 4:3-4). 
Finally, this exhortation to Timothy must be understood in light of 
Paul's own practice. He preached the Word at every opportunity, 
whether in synagogues, market-places, prisons, or Christian assemblies. 
In commenting on Paul's charge to Timothy, Moule states, 

[Preaching], in the Apostle's view, as he stood upon the threshhold of 
eternity, was the thing of all things for Timothy to do. True, he would 
have to minister ordinances and to be the administrative leader of the 
mission-churches. But supremely, he was to 'proclaim the Word'; this 
before all things was man's great need, and this therefore was the 
Lord's pastoral servant's highest and incessant task."'' 

Making the pulpit ministry the pastor's highest priority is based 
on the Word of God. Therefore, pastors are morally responsible to 
preach the Word. For the pastor to speak to issues of politics, 
psychology, philosophy, sociology, and the like has no such biblical 
basis. And God has promised that his Word will not return unto him 

"H. E. Dana and J. R. Mantey, A Manual Grammar of the Greek New Testament 
(Toronto: Macmillan, 1955) 193. See also the recent discussion by D. A. Carson, 
Exegetical Fallacies (Grand Rapids: Baker. 1984)69-75. 

"'As quoted by E. M. Blaiklock, The Pastoral Epistles (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 
1972) 119. 

"^H. C. G. Moule, The Second Epistle to Timothy (London: The Religious Tract 
Society, 1906) 128. 

kurtaneck: are seminaries preparing pastors? 367 

void, but will accomplish what he pleases and will prosper wherever 
he sends it (Isa 55:1 1). 


Above all other appellations a pastor should be known as a man 
of God whose life is shaped by the Holy Spirit through the Word of 
God. This should stir the pastor's heart to communicate the Word to 
the members of his church in the hope that they will come under the 
mastery of the Word. 

In light of this, evangelical seminaries ought to be structured in 
such a way that the personal life as well as the academic life of the 
student cultivates the ability and desire to preach the Word. In the 
midst of a diversified academic program, seminaries must guard against 
factors that tend to overshadow this supreme pastoral task. I suggest 
that the academic programs of seminaries should be structured to 
cultivate a theistic mentality, a correct methodology, and a balanced 

Theistic Mentality 

A "theistic mentality" is one conformed to the mind of Christ. It 
is a mind-set disciplined, dominated, and directed by the Scriptures, 
conscious of the sovereignty of God. Seminaries can cultivate this 
kind of mind-set through focusing their curriculum on the person and 
plan of God. This may be done by making theology the core subject 
of the seminary program. Regrettably, because of the fragmentation 
which results from catering to specialized ministries, theology no 
longer has the dominion over the education of seminarians that it 
once had. 

Farley has also noted this change in seminary curriculums. He 
says, "the typical product of three years of seminary study is not a 
theologically educated minister. The present ethos of the Protestant 
churches is such that a theologically oriented approach to the prepara- 
tion of ministers is not only irrelevant but counterproductive."'^^ Farley 
does not say that seminaries have eliminated theology from the cur- 
riculum, but he is pointing to the fact that it is no longer the basic 
subject matter of the curriculum. He says, "theological education [has 
become] an amalgam of academic specialization and culture adapta- 
tion"^^ and that theological understanding is needed to restore unity 
to the curriculum. 

^'Farley, Theolugia,4. 
^'Ibid., 151. 


Stott contends that biblical or expository preaching is extremely 
rare in current Christendom. He affirms that such preaching will not 
come merely from the mastery of certain techniques, but rather from 
being mastered by convictions that "cannot be taught without a solid 
theological foundation." Technique can make orators; only theology 
can make preachers. Stott believes that if "our theology is right, then 
we have all the basic insights we need into what we ought to be doing, 
and all the incentives we need to do it faithfully." 

To speak of theology as the core curriculum of a seminary is not 
to say that it is an end in itself; rather, theology is a means to an end. 
Theology should address the heart as well as the mind. Theology 
ought to be taught with an emphasis on doing and living. Strong 

I make no apology for the homiletical element in my book. To be 
either true or useful, theology must be a passion. ... No disdainful 
cries of 'Pectoral Theology!' shall prevent me from maintaining that 
the eyes of the heart must be enlightened in order to perceive the truth 
of God, and that to know the truth it is needful to do the truth. 
Theology is a science which can be successfully cultivated in connection 
with its practical application. 1 would therefore, in every discussion of 
its principles, point out its relations to Christian experience, and its 
power to awaken Christian emotions and lead to Christian decisions. 
Abstract theology is not really scientific. Only that theology is scientific 
which brings the student to the feet of Christ.'* 

Bavinck stated that a "theologian is a person who makes bold to 
speak about God because he speaks out of God and through God. To 
profess theology is to do holy work. It is a priestly ministration in the 
house of the Lord. It is itself a service of worship, a consecration of 
mind and heart to the honor of His name." One of Bavinck's former 
students commented, "His lectures became a sermon, as the professor 
was stirred by the truth." During his final illness, Bavinck uttered the 
words, "Now my scholarship avails me nothing, nor my dogmatics: it 
is only my faith can save me."'^ These statements by and about 
Bavinck do not disparage theology but simply indicate the practical 
goal of theology, the development of faith. 

The development of faith requires the preaching of theology in a 
manner that might be called "incarnational preaching. "^*^ Such preach- 
ing emphasizes "the Word made flesh" (John 1:15), and makes biblical 
truth live in contemporary situations through the living Christ. Fant 

''John R. W. Stott. Between Two Worlds (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1982)92. 
'^Augustus H. Strong, Systematic T/Vo/o,?!' (Philadelphia: Judson, 1953) xi. 
"Herman Bavinck, Our Reasonable Faith (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1956) 7. 
'"Pant, Preaching for Today, 26. 29. 

kurtaneck: are seminaries preparing pastors? 369 

has said, "The Word of God is never irrelevant, but my preaching 
may well be. And it will be, if it does not bear the eternal Word, and 
if it does not touch the living situation. Only the word which dwells 
among us is the word of Christian preaching." In other words, 
preaching theology means preaching the living Christ — the embodi- 
ment of theology. 

Only the professor whose mind and heart have been transformed 
by the living Christ can effectively teach theology. Orthodoxy and 
orthopraxy go hand in hand. Only such a professor can instill in his 
students the theistic mentality that will prepare them to preach the 
Word of God. 

Correct Methodology 

The methodology used to study the Bible should be in harmony 
with the fundamental doctrines of the Christian faith. The traditional 
historical, grammatical system of hermeneutics (based on the orthodox 
doctrine of the verbal and plenary inspiration of Scripture) is such a 
methodology. Biblical exegesis has as its goal understanding the mean- 
ing of the text. Unfortunately, exegesis as a vital aspect of theological 
education is now sometimes overshadowed by the proliferation of 
skill-oriented programs designed to meet the demand of churches for 
specialized professional workers." 

A method of biblical study that has gained popularity is the so- 
called critical method. Is this method compatible with the fundamental 
doctrines of the Christian faith? The history of the critical method 
clearly reveals that this method has been mainly destructive to ortho- 
dox Christianity. German Rationalism (with its elevation of human 
reason above the authority of Scripture) has influenced many practi- 
tioners of the critical method. Since it is beyond the scope of this 
essay to detail the use of this method, the reader is referred to the 
books by Lindsell which document the use and effects of the critical 

The basic fault with the critical method as it is generally practiced 
is its tendency to emphasize the human aspect in the writing of 

"ibid.. 41. 

^"Cf. Guelich, "On Becoming a Minister," 8, who says, '"a survey of seminary 
curricula over the past generation will show a growing demise of the exegetical 
disciplines" and "the deemphasis of biblical studies in general and the abandoning of 
the exegetical disciplines such as biblical languages and courses in exegetical methods 
and aids in particular suggest the growing acceptance of exegesis as an option rather 
than a necessity." Similarly, Kaiser (Towards an Exegetical Theology, 17) says that the 
crisis in exegesis is the "crisis that has precipitated the other theological crises." 

^'Harold Lindsell, The Battle for the Bible (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1976); and 
The Bible in the Balance (Grand Rapids; Zondervan, 1979). 


Scripture to the neglect of the divine aspect. This is not to say that 
correct methodology should not take into account the historical cir- 
cumstances and literary processes through which the Bible was written. 
But it must also consciously realize the divine element as well (cf. 
2 Tim 3:16; 1 Cor 2:13). Unless methodology is based upon correct 
theological presuppositions, it inevitably leads to a humanistic rather 
than a theistic emphasis in the study of the Bible. A method that 
focuses almost exclusively on the human aspect of Scripture cultivates 
a mentality antagonistic the fact that the Bible is the Word of God, 
not the Word of Man. 

An illustration of the results of the critical methodology is 
Gundry's commentary on Matthew. According to Gundry, Matthew 
employed the literary genre of midrash and haggadah. This is the 
genre employed by rabbinical writers to embellish OT history. Gundry 
says Matthew embellished his source (Mark) and wrote a gospel which 
mixed historical events with midrashic theological embellishment. 
Thus for Gundry, when Matthew said, "Jesus said . . ." or "Jesus 
did . . . ," he did not necessarily mean that Jesus said or did anything 
in history. Matthew may have been using a "literary Jesus" to make a 
theological point. ^'* Gundry's view has been challenged both methodo- 
logically and theologically. This will not be pursued further here, but 
the controversy provides an excellent case in point to show the need 
for correct methodology.^^ 

Evangelical seminaries must take the initiative in training pastoral 
students in the practice of correct methodology — methodology which 
does justice to both the divine and human aspects of Scripture. The 
axiom of seminary training should be, "scholarship is a tool, a means 
for discerning God's Word. It is not a new authority."^^ 

Balanced Motivation 

Two attitudes that must be balanced to motivate preaching are 
the conviction of a divine call to the ministry and the commitment to 
obey that call for the glory of God, whatever the cost. Both are 
essential to establish a balanced motivation for the work of the 
ministry centered in the preaching of the Word. 

'""Robert H. Gundry, Matthew, A Commentary on His Literary and Theological 
/4r/ (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans. 1982)623,629-30. 

'^For a lengthy critique of Gundry's approacii see D. A. Carson, "Gundry on 
Matthew: A Critical Review." TrinJ 7> NS (1982) 71-91. Gundry's position was debated 
at length by Norman Geisler and Douglas Moo. See JETS 26 (1983) 31-116. See also 
David L. Turner, "Evangelicals, Redaction Criticism, and the Current Inerrancy Crisis," 
cry 4 (1983) 263-88; and J. W. Scott, "Matthew's Intention to Write History," WTJ 

'* Fischer, Who Dares to Preach. 49. 

kurtaneck: are seminaries preparing pastors? 371 

The divine call stresses the fact that a pastor is God's servant. He 
should echo the words of Christ, "I came . . . not to do my own will 
but the will of him who sent me" (John 6:37). Pastors do not merely 
choose the ministry as a profession;" they are called by God. The call 
of God should focus attention on the eternal consequences of the 
pastor's work. Seminaries need to cultivate this attitude toward the 

Equally important for the development of balanced motivation is 
the commitment to fulfill the divine call. A pastor serves God by 
serving man. This is evident in the example of Jesus who came to do 
the will of God (John 6:38) and to minister to men (Matt 20:28). 


The primary responsibility of evangelical seminaries is to train 
prospective pastors to preach the Word. In order for this task to 
be accomplished, theology needs to be taught as the core of the 
curriculum. Proper theology cultivates a theistic mentality, a correct 
methodology, and a balanced motivation. Pastors so trained will be 
inspired to preach the Word in season and out of season. They will 
say with Paul, "necessity is laid upon me; yea, woe is unto me, if I 
preach not the gospel" ( 1 Cor 9: 1 6). 

"Cf. the remarks of Farley ( Theologia. 3-23) who criticizes seminaries for develop- 
ing a professional paradigm for the ministry rather than stressing the divine call. 

Grace Theological Journal 6.2 (1985) 373-381 


Thomas Julien 

The most distinctive characteristic of the Brethren movement has 
been its vigorous opposition to creedalism and its commitment to the 
Bible as the sole authority. By recognizing this heritage and realizing 
the problems of creedalism, the Brethren may avoid adopting 
superficial solutions for the challenges of the present and pass on 
their heritage to future generations. Specifically, the Brethren must 
view their Statement of Faith and their practices as aligned with the 
authoritative Scripture and not as binding in and of themselves. This 
will promote true fellowship among the Brethren. 


BRETHRENISM has FOOts both in the Reformed movement and in 
German pietism. Although he was born to reformed parents, 
Alexander Mack, the founder of the Brethren movement, was strongly 
influenced by such pietists as Hochman, whom he accompanied on 
some preaching missions. In a sense, however, Brethrenism was a 
reaction to both movements. Protesting the cold creedalism of the 
reformed churches and the excessive spiritualizing of the pietists, the 
founders of Brethrenism believed that total obedience to Jesus Christ 
required the formation of a visible body of believers faithful to the 
biblical pattern. As Brumbaugh said, "Rejecting on one hand the 
creed of man, and on the other hand the abandonment of ordinances, 
they turned to the Bible for guidance. From God's Word they learned 
that ordinances were vital and creed unnecessary."' 

It is healthy for the Brethren to review, from time to time, their 
anticreedalistic heritage in order that they might appreciate it and 
perpetuate it. It is also good for them to review the dangers of 
creedalism so that they might avoid adopting superficial solutions for 
the challenges of the present. 

'Martin Grove Brumbaugh, A History of the Brethren (Mt. Morris, IL: Brethren 
Publishing House, 1899)33. 



The vigorous opposition of the early Brethren to creedaHsm has 
probably become the most distinctive characteristic of the Brethren 
movement. As the Report of the Committee on Recommending 
Procedures for Amending the Fellowship of Grace Brethren Churches 
Statement of Faith has explained. 

There has always been a great resistance in making the Brethren a 
creedal denomination. For example, in 1882 the Progressive Brethren 
gathered at the convention in Ashland, Ohio to formulate a Declaration 
of Principles, the principles on which the Brethren Church was to be 
structured. Statements from this Declaration of Principles included: 

We hold that in religion the gospel of Christ and the gospel 
alone, is a sufficient rule of faith and practice; that he who adds 
to the gospel, takes away from it, or in any way binds upon men 
anything different from the gospel, is an infidel to the Author of 
Christianity and a usurper of gospel rights. 

Furthermore, when discussing statements of faith and creeds, the 1882 
Progressive Brethren insisted: 

That the gospel . . . prohibits the elevation of these instruments 
or expediencies to an equal plan of authority, with positive 
divine enactments, the penalty attached to the transgression of 
which is to be social ostracism or severence of church relation.' 

The brethren did not react to "creeds" in the etymological sense 
of "something believed." Rather, the term "creed" suggested to them 
an authoritative statement of faith requiring the assent of believers. 
The Brethren believed that only the Bible possessed such normative 
authority. Further, it is apparent that Brethren noncreedalism was 
not prompted by a mystical or relativistic view of truth. Nor does it 
express an unwillingness to define beliefs and express them clearly. 
The same Report quoted above goes on to note. 

In 1892 at a General Conference in Warsaw, Indiana, the following 
action with respect to church creeds took place: 

The conference reaffirmed the former position of the Church in 
renouncing all creeds of every description except the Bible, the 
whole Bible, and nothing but the Bible; but for the satisfaction of 
honest inquirers, who are unacquainted with our people, they 

^"Report of the Committee on Recommending Procedures for Amending the 
FGBC Statement of Faith," 1982 Grace Brethren Annual (December 1, 1981) 43. 

julien: brethrenism and creeds 375 

announced officially that the Brethren Church understands her 
creed to teach, among other things, the following. . . .' 

In this quotation the term "creed" is used in two different ways. On 
the one hand, it was used in reference to a statement which showed 
others what the Brethren believed. In calling the statement their 
"creed" they were simply using the term in its etymological sense. On 
the other hand, the term was used in the sense of authoritative 
religious dogmas which were forced upon people by a religious 
hierarchy. Such creedalism had been rejected by the spiritual fore- 
fathers of the Brethren and was also renounced by the Brethren in 

For Alexander Mack "man-made creeds" were identified with 
the sterile and oppressive religious systems of his day." When the 
initial fervor of the Reformation had past, the institutions it had 
spawned became very creedalistic. Then each institution, to the extent 
it was able, oppressed those who refused to conform to its system. In 
particular, the Brethren became an object of oppression. 


Creedalism is the result of making a statement of beliefs binding 
on the conscience of the individual Christian. And creedalism carries 
along with it a grave error — the elevation of man's perception of 
truth to a place of authority superior to divine revelation. 

It is inevitable, once an authoritative creed is formulated, that it 
becomes the reference point for belief as well as for further research 
and reflection. Though in theory all Protestant creeds profess sub- 
mission to the Word of God and are valuable only to the extent of 
their conformity to it, in practice creeds become the spectacles 
through which the Word is read and interpreted. To the extent that 
the creed gains authority, it relativizes the authority of the Word that 
begat it. Historically this sad process seems inevitable. No system of 
dual authority can stand — one will always rise above the other. 

There is a great difference between "creedal truth" and "biblical 
truth." Biblical truth is revealed; creedal truth is perceived and 
formulated. When one assents to a certain creedal formulation he 
assents to a human construct, but when one assents to a biblical 
statement he assents to divine revelation. Of course, many will point 

'ibid. At this point in the conference report the distinctives of the Brethren Church 
are enumerated as baptism, footwashing, the Lord's supper, the communion of the 
bread and cup, the holy kiss, and congregational church government. 

"W. G. Willoughby, Counting the Cost: The Life of Alexander Mack (Elgin, IL: 
Brethren Press, 1979)64. 


out that all Protestant creeds are subject to the authority of the 
Word. Philip Schaff has said that. 

In the Protestant system, the authority of symbols, as of all human 
composition, is relative and limited. It is not coordinate with, but 
always subordinate to the Bible as the only infallible rule of the 
Christian faith and practice. The value of creeds depends upon the 
measure of their agreement with the Scriptures. In the best case a 
human creed is only an approximate and relatively correct exposition 
of revealed truth, and may be improved upon by the progressive 
knowledge of the Church, while the Bible remains perfect and infallible. 
The Bible is of God; the Confession is man's answer to God's word. 
The Bible has, therefore, a divine and absolute, the Confession only an 
ecclesiastical and relative authority. Any higher view of the authority 
of the symbols is unprotestant and essentially Romanizing.^ 

However, creedal denominations, while in theory claiming the 
authority of the Scriptures over the creeds, nevertheless may in 
practice appeal to the creeds rather than to the Scriptures for their 
identity. Thus they move historically to various degrees of creedalism 
and run the risk of losing the truths that the creeds were meant to 
preserve. Even Schaff recognized this problem: 

It is objected . . . that the symbololatry of the Lutheran and Calvinistic 
State Churches in the seventeenth century is responsible for the apos- 
tasy of the eighteenth. The objections have some force in those State 
Churches which allow no liberty for dissenting organizations, or when 
the creeds are virtually put above the Scriptures instead of being 
subordinated to them.^ 

Though some may argue that a creed, if carefully formulated, 
teaches the same truths as the Scriptures, one must reply that creedal 
truth, though identical in content with biblical truth, is different in 
nature from biblical truth. Though "the law of the Lord is perfect" 
(Ps 19:7), the perceptive faculties of his children are not. Only the 
authors of Scripture were infallibly moved by the Holy Spirit as they 
wrote. No prophesy of Scripture came about merely by human 
origination or interpretation (2 Pet 1:20). Yet all creeds by their very 
nature, no matter how faithful they are to the revealed Word, are in 

'Philip Schaff, 77?^ Creeds of Christendom (reprint; Grand Rapids: Baker. 1977) 

*Ibid., 1 . 9. For examples of forced subscription to a creed in the ministry of John 
Calvin, see Paul Woolley, "What is a Creed For? Some Answers from History" in 
Scripture and Confession, ed. John H. Skilton (Nutley, NJ: Presbyterian and Reformed, 
1973) 107, 1 10-1 1. Woolley concludes that Calvin was not using the creed properly in 
those instances. 

julien: brethrenism and creeds 377 

fact an effort to interpret the revealed Word. This does not mean that 
it is wrong to summarize the teaching of the Word in order to teach it 
to others. Summaries, however, must not become authoritative docu- 
ments that become binding on the consciences of men. 

Bibhcal revelation must always be prefaced with: "God says. . . ." 
It is self-authenticating revelation.^ It reposes on the authority of the 
eternal God whose Word will not return to him without accomplish- 
ing its purpose (Isa 40:11). Creedal truth, however, must be prefaced 
with "I believe." Because of its nature, a creed has no more power to 
preserve the truth it defines than a law has power to guarantee 
obedience. Preservation of the truth is accomplished by the Spirit; 
creeds have had limited success in the preservation of the truth. 

Further, an ecclesiastical hierarchy must exist to make a creed 
binding upon the individual members of a church organization. This 
means that there is a wide gulf between clergy and laity. This is 
foreign to the Brethren heritage. To move toward creedalism is to risk 
losing a precious aspect of this heritage. Unless Brethren build 
faithfully on the foundation of their heritage they will not preserve 
their historical denominational identity. 

Another problem of creedalism is that it tends to reduce faith to 
mere intellectual assent to a body of dogma. Fellowship among 
believers is also affected. Fellowship in a creedalistic setting tends to 
be simply intellectual agreement. Faith and fellowship are thus for- 
malized into assent and agreement respectively. This leads to a group 
of people who are coming together and saying, "We are members of 
the church" but the only thing that binds them together is that they 
are willing to say the same things and to sign the same creed. But 
biblical fellowship involves the richness of a shared spirit and loving 
commitment to the body. This is often lacking in creedalistic settings. 

the challenge of creedalism for brethren 

A growing creedalism could eventually cancel out two bedrock 
principles of the Brethren movement: the sole authority of the Word 
of God in matters of faith and practice on the one hand, and the 
autonomy of the local church on the other. The first principle would 
be endangered because creedalism tends to relativize the Word of 
God. The second principle would be jeopardized because creedalism 
requires an ecclesiastical hierarchy for its enforcement. These two 
factors alone show that the Brethren heritage and creedalism are 
mutually exclusive. The Brethren ought to be constantly alert to the 

'James M. Grier, "The Apologetic Value of the Self-Witness of Scripture," GTJ 1 


danger of sacrificing the essential principle of Brethrenism by allowing 
any man-made document to supplant the written Word as the means 
God has chosen to perpetuate all truth. 

In light of the above, can a church body have a Statement of 
Faith without becoming a creedalistic denomination? This question 
has been discussed at great lengths in recent years by leaders of the 
Fellowship of Grace Brethren Churches. A three-year study commit- 
tee appointed by the annual conference of the fellowship circulated a 
questionnaire in which the first question was, "What does it mean to 
be 'biblical' rather than 'creedal'?" Unfortunately, many of the answers 
to this question revealed a misunderstanding of the term "creed" in 
the context of Brethren history. In many answers a creed was viewed 
simply as a statement of beliefs. Historically, Brethren have utilized 
such statements. However such statements are not invested with the 
normative authority which belongs only to God's Word. 

Both Brethren and non-Brethren have expressed the fear that 
concern for the preservation of Brethren distinctives might expose the 
Brethren to the snares of creedalism and sever them from their 
historical roots. This concern has been expressed by Dennis Martin: 

Thus Grace Brethren have approached the adoption of a genuinely 
creedal statement more nearly than other Brethren groups, although 
the statement's authority in church polity is unclear, especially in 
regard to its articles on baptism and the traditional Brethren three-fold 
communion service (love feast). ^ 

The challenge to the Grace Brethren, then, is to clearly state and 
preserve essential beliefs and distinctives while avoiding a creedalism 
which would tend to minimize their commitment to the Bible, the 
whole Bible, and nothing but the Bible. In order to accomplish this. 
Brethren must be sensitive to their anticreedalistic heritage and utilize 
their Statement of Faith accordingly. Three suggestions might serve 
as guideposts. 

First, the Statement of Faith must never be allowed to become a 
creed in the sense of becoming a formulation of dogma established by 
the authority of the denomination and binding on the individual 
consciences of its members. A Statement of Faith affirms the beliefs 
of a group of Christians with which one aligns himself. It does not 
normally become binding upon the individual conscience, which 
should be bound only by the Word of God. However, the Statement 
of Faith is a necessary definition of the beliefs of a group of people 
which allows them to have fellowship together. It is a kind of 

^Dennis Martin, "Noncreedalism," in The Brethren Encyclopedia (Philadelphia: 
Brethren Encyclopedia, 1983) 2. 943. 

julien: brethrenism and creeds 379 

marriage contract for a church. One cannot just say, "We believe in 
the Bible," and leave it at that. There must be a clear definition of 
doctrine and practice. However, the Statement of Faith is an affirma- 
tion of what the body as a whole believes and practices. This is not 
necessarily the personal creed of each member of that body unless 
much time and energy are expended in examining that Statement in 
the light of God's Word. It takes time for the truths of a Statement 
of Faith to become binding upon the individual's conscience. This 
occurs only when the individual is convinced that the statement 
faithfully represents biblical revelation. Mere uncritical assent to a 
statement of faith is not faith at all. 

Second, the Statement of Faith must never be allowed to become 
the main identifying factor of the Grace Brethren fellowship. A 
creedalistic denomination is one which finds its main identifying 
factor in the creed. A biblical denomination is one which finds its 
identity in the Word of God. A biblical denomination may have a 
"creed" in the sense of a statement of faith which is based upon the 
Bible. However, a denomination cannot be creedalistic and biblical at 
the same time. There can only be one absolute norm for faith and 
practice. Noncreedalistic denominations have sought to ground not 
only doctrine but also church practices and polity solely upon the 
Bible. As was true of most free church movements, Brethrenism 
differed from reformed ecclesiology in attempting consistent con- 
formity to the NT pattern. Nearly all denominational bodies origi- 
nating in postreformation times can be measured by the degree of 
their conformity to the NT pattern. The desire of the Brethren from 
the beginning was for consistent conformity to the NT pattern. 
Through careful study of both the Scriptures and early church 
history, the original "Tunkers" sought to form a body of believers 
founded on the principle that the Bible alone is sufficient, not only in 
matters of doctrine, but also in determining the structure and practices 
of the church. 

Brethrenism in its essence, then, is a principle manifested by 
visible practices. The practices are proof of commitment to the 
principle. It is not merely an affirmation of belief in "the Bible, the 
whole Bible, nothing but the Bible." Nor is it simply a collection of 
"Brethren distinctives." These distinct practices have meaning because 
they grow out of the basic principle. The spirit of Brethrenism exists 
only when there is a vital, dynamic relationship between the principle 
and practices. 

A Statement of Faith does not give identity to a church body 
which strives to be biblical. It merely defines the identity that this 
body already possesses. Though this distinction may be difficult to 
grasp, it is a distinction which must be made if the historical identity 
of the Brethren is to be preserved. 


Third, appeal must never be made to the Statement of Faith as 
the final authority in the areas of faith and practice. In other words, it 
must never become a convenient substitute for the Word of God. It is 
a necessary summary of the beliefs of the body, but when controversy 
arises it must give place to the ultimate authority of the Word of 
God. In cases of controversy, biblical research should prove or 
disprove whether the Statement of Faith has indeed faithfully sum- 
marized the teaching of Scripture on the disputed points. In some 
instances, the Statement of Faith might have to be modified in order 
to reflect more accurately biblical revelation. But in no case can issues 
be settled merely by appealing to a man-made document. 


What is Brethrenism? Perhaps it could be compared to a house 
with three floors. On the very bottom there is the basic principle: 
"The Bible, the whole Bible, and nothing but the Bible." Affirmation 
of the Scriptures as the sole and final authority in all matters of 
doctrine, practice, and polity is the bedrock principle of Brethrenism. 

But Brethrenism is more than this. It is an attempt to bring its 
practices into conformity with the Scriptures. One of the practices of 
the Brethren is three-fold communion and another is triune immer- 
sion. If these practices are observed, it is because Brethren are 
convinced that this is what the Bible is teaching. Therefore, when 
Brethren say, "the Bible, the whole Bible, and nothing but the Bible," 
it is not merely an intellectual assertion. It implies that Brethren will 
prove visibly by their church ordinances that they are committed to 
their basic principle. This is the second floor of the house. 

The third floor is genuine fellowship and community. It involves 
more than just mere intellectual assent to the Word. Because of the 
heavy pietistic influence on the early Brethren, they did not see the 
Word as an end in itself, but as a means of knowing and loving God. 
They seemingly took the best of pietism and incorporated it into their 
movement. Thus to them faith was knowing God in the context of the 
Scriptures. There was no conflict between intellectual knowledge 
about God and experiential fellowship with God. There was consis- 
tency in doctrine and practice. 

It is not by mistake that they chose the word "brethren." Sadly 
the word is used with little meaning today. Sometimes there are two 
Brethren churches in the same city that cannot get along with each 
other and are not interested in each other. When this is the case, the 
word "brethren" has no genuine content. When churches are dividing, 
and when there is no practice of forgiveness, confession, and restora- 
tion, then the word "brethren" has become empty and hollow. The 
word "brethren" must carry all its rich biblical content. 

julien: brethrenism and creeds 381 

When one begins to learn something about the circumstances 
surrounding the birth of Brethrenism, he catches a glimmer of the 
glory of the movement. Though the reformed church made great 
strides in the right direction, whenever it practiced creedalism it fell 
short of the NT pattern for the church. Pietism, with its mystical 
tendencies and its refusal to root itself in biblical revelation on the 
church and its ordinances, led inevitably to subjectivism. With great 
courage and at great cost, the founders of Brethrenism pledged 
themselves to a faith firmly rooted in the Word of God, and a 
willingness to accept all the consequences of that faith. 

Those of us who are their heirs are committed to preserving the 
heritage they have bestowed upon us. May we ever remember that we 
shall only preserve Brethren practices by faithful commitment to our 
basic principle: "the Bible, the whole Bible, and nothing but the 

Grace TheologkalJoumal b.2(\9%5) 383-390 


David R. Plaster 

77?^ practice of triune immersion as the mode of baptism for 
believers has been a historic distinctive of the Brethren movement. 
This mode of baptism is supported by three arguments: doctrinal, 
grammatical, and historical. The doctrinal thrust of Matt 28:19 is 
trinitarian and supports the triple action involved in triune imtversion. 
The grammar and language of the text also support this approach. 
And history provides evidence that triune immersion was the mode 
utilized by the early church. Thus, triune immersion is the preferred 
mode of baptism. 


FOR over nineteen centuries the imperative of Christian baptism 
has been almost universally recognized within all branches of 
Christianity. Christians, however, have differed concerning the mode 
of baptism and those who may properly receive it. This article focuses 
on the former. Since the very inception of the movement in 1708, the 
Brethren have practiced baptism by triune immersion. The reasons 
for the adoption of this mode are doctrinal, grammatical, and 


The spiritual significance of an ordinance is absolutely vital to its 
understanding and practice. As John Calvin stated, 

the principal thing recommended by our Lord is to celebrate the ordi- 
nance with true understanding. From this it follows that the essential 
part lies in the doctrine. This being taken away, it is only a frigid 

An ordinance is a teaching aid to God's people in that it pictures 
truth. The form of the ordinance, therefore, should correspond to the 

'John Calvin, Tracts and Treatises, Vol 2, Tracts and Treatises on the Doctrine 
and Worship of the Church (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1958) 190. 


teaching that the Word of God expHcitly associates with it.^ These 
truths can be grouped with respect to the behever and with respect to 

Truths With Respect to the Believer 

A New Relationship with the Triune God 

Water baptism is an aid to teaching concerning the behever's 
salvation experience, symbolizing important aspects of that salvation 
experience. First, baptism symbolizes the believer's new relationship/ 
identity with the triune God. In Matt 28:18-20 Jesus commands that 
disciples are to be baptized "in (eig) the name of the Father and the 
Son and the Holy Spirit" {NASB). What does it mean to be baptized 
"into" the name of someone? Ryrie concludes that "a theological 
definition of baptism would best be understood in terms of identifica- 
tion or association with something like a group or message or expe- 
rience. This idea will fit the varied uses of baptism."^ If this is true, 
being baptized into the name of the Father, and the Son, and the 
Holy Spirit symbolically pictures the believer's new relationship. The 
believer is now identified with each member of the triune God; 
formerly he was separated from God (Eph 2:12).^ 

How does Rom 6:3-4 fit this understanding of baptism? It should 
be kept in mind that Romans 6 is not referring primarily to water 
baptism. That passage speaks of a reality, not a symbol. The reality is 
accomplished through the baptism with the Holy Spirit (1 Cor 12:13; 
Gal 3:27-28). If it is understood that a purpose of water baptism is 
somehow to symbolize Spirit baptism (a connection that needs to be 
demonstrated rather than assumed), the reference to water baptism in 
Romans 6 is secondary at best^ — it refers primarily to the identifica- 
tion of the believer with Christ. Granting a connection between 
Romans 6 and water baptism does not necessarily mean that water 
baptism primarily pictures identification with Christ in death, burial 
and resurrection.^ When the command for baptism was given by 

For a fuller discussion of this principle see David R. Plaster, Ordinances: What 
Are They? (Wxnomi Lake: BMH, 1985)43-67. 

'Charles C. Ryrie, A Survey of Bible Doctrine (Chicago: Moody, 1972) 151. 
R. V. G. Tasker, The Gospel According to St. Matthew, (Tyndale New Testament 
Commentaries; Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1961) 275; William Hendriksen, Exposi- 
tion of the Gospel According to Matthew (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1973) 1001; and 
Willoughby C. Allen, A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Gospel According 
to S. Matthew (ICC; Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, 1907) 306-7. 

'Alva J. McClain, Romans: The Gospel of God's Grace (Chicago: Moody, 1973) 
144; and Charles Hodge, A Commentary on Romans (London: Banner of Truth, 1972) 

^Richard Averbeck, "The Focus of Baptism in the New Testament" GTJ 1 (Fall, 
1981) 292-94; and F. Hauck, "pditTM," TDNT 1 (1964) 529-45. 

plaster: baptism by triune immersion 385 

Christ as part of the discipleship process it had a trinitarian thrust. 
The primary identification, then, is with all three persons of the 
Godhead, not just the Son. 

This trinitarian import must not be ignored. God the Father and 
God the Holy Spirit are also included in the original command. 
Furthermore, the apostles were not thinking of "death, burial and 
resurrection" when that command was given in Matthew 28. Thus, 
while it must be granted that Rom 6:3-4 does have some connection 
with water baptism and identification with the Son, it seems clear 
that this cannot become the primary doctrinal focus of baptism in 
view of the obvious trinitarian import intended by Jesus. Matt 28:18-20 
with its trinitarian thrust allows for the important truth of Romans 6. 
However, an emphasis on Romans 6 alone minimizes the trinitarian 
import of Matthew 28. Therefore, while the importance of Romans 6 
should not be diminished, neither should the trinitarian emphasis 
which was tied to baptism at its inception be neglected.^ 

This raises the question of the references to baptism in Acts. It 
is recorded that believers were baptized eiq to 6vo|ia toC Kupiou 
Triaoij / 'in the name of the Lord Jesus' (8: 16; 19:5). Is this baptismal 
formula in conflict with that which was recorded by Matthew? Everett 
F. Harrison points out. 

The variation in terminology — Jesus Christ and the Lord Jesus — is 
enough to warn us that this is not to be understood as a precise 
formula. In fact, it was intended not as a formula at all but as an 
indication that when the candidate confessed that sacred name, Jesus 
Christ was central to the new relationship that was being certified in 
the baptismal rite.^ 

A comparison of texts in the Didache (a.d. 120) is of great interest in 
this regard. Only those who had been baptized eic; ovojia Kupiou were 
permitted to partake of the Eucharist.^ Yet baptism in the very same 
document has a trinitarian thrust. '° As Harrison observes, "there is 
no more need to see contradiction between Matt 28:19 and the lan- 
guage of Acts than to see it between the two passages in the 
Didache. ""^^ The references in Acts thus are not a particular formula 
but rather indicate that the baptism was Christian in distinction from 
other baptismal rites known in the first-century world. '^ 

Cf. Plaster, Ordinances, 53-56 for further discussion of this point. 
^Everett F. Harrison, "Did Christ Command World Evangelism?" Christianity 
Today (November 23, 1973) 9. 
^Did. 9. 5. 
'"ibid.,?. 1,3. 

"Harrison, "Did Christ Command World Evangelism?" 9. 
'^Robert L. Saucy, TTie Church in God's Program (Chicago: Moody, 1982) 193. 


A Public Confession of Faith 

Second, since water baptism denotes a new identification or 
association with the triune God, baptism is a pubHc confession that 
the beUever has indeed put his faith in God.'^ As such, it can also 
indicate the believer's desire to identify himself with the program 
outlined in the Great Commission and manifested in the local church."' 
Baptism was not an option for believers — "the idea of an unbaptized 
Christian is simply not entertained in the N.T."'^ 

An Act of Commitment 

Corresponding to the change in relationship pictured in baptism, 
a third implication is the believer's act of commitment. One should 
not profess through baptism a close association with the triune God 
without reflecting in lifestyle a corresponding allegiance and dedication 
to that God. In Matt 28:18-20 baptism is a vital part of the disciple- 
ship process. Thus, it not only points back as a testimony of salvation, 
but it also points ahead to the path of discipleship to which the 
believer is committing himself. Averbeck concludes that baptism "was 
a rite of commitment and dedication. It was not only a demonstration 
of faith, but a promise of faithfulness."'^ 

A Cleansing from Sin 

Fourth, baptism symbolizes the result of salvation — cleansing 
from sin. Since water is used in baptism, it should be easy to realize 
this truth. However, the NT makes the connection between baptism 
and the washing away of sins explicit in Acts 22:16. Baptism is the 
symbol of the reality of cleansing. "His [Paul's] baptism was to be the 
outward and visible sign of his inward and spiritual cleansing from 
sin by the grace of God."'^ Perhaps Jesus' use of the term "bath" in 
John 13:10-11 also ties together the truth of spiritual cleansing and 
its symbol in baptism. 

Truths With Respect to the Triune God 

Inseparably related to the truth that water baptism symbolizes 
the new union of the believer with each member of the triune God is 
the truth that baptism represents truth concerning the very nature of 

"Allen, Matthew, 305. 

'"Averbeck, "Focus of Baptism," 301. 

'^F. F. Bruce, Acts of the Apostles (NICNT; Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1968) 77. 

""Averbeck, "Focus of Baptism," 300. 

"Bruce, Acts, 442. 

plaster: baptism by triune immersion 387 

God as well. Thus, the trinitarian formula of Matt 28:19-20 makes 
water baptism illustrate the work of each member of the trinity in 

The Unity of God 

Triune immersion symbolizes the nature of the triune God. 
Baptism as a unified act points to the unity of God. Baptism as three 
separate but equal dips points to the one God as a triunity of three 
separate but unified persons. Thus, triune immersion is a portrayal of 
the triune God. 

The Role of All Three Persons 

Triune immersion suggests that all three persons of the Godhead 
played a role in the believer's salvation. While these ministries are not 
strictly compartmentalized, it is generally true that the Father is the 
source of salvation, the One who sent the Son (John 3:16-17; 6:38; 
Eph 1:1-14). The Son, sent to die as the perfect sacrifice for sin, accom- 
plished this salvation (John 10:17-18; Eph 1:1-14; 1 Cor 3:11). The 
Holy Spirit actualized this salvation in individuals when he applied 
Christ's sacrificial death to every believer (John 3:6; Eph 1:13-14).'^ 

In the discussion of the symbolism of baptism it is essential that 
the historical context of Matthew 28 be properly understood as it 
relates to the progress of revelation. The Jews demanded the death of 
Jesus because of his claim to deity. He claimed equality with the 
Father (Matt 26:59-66; John 19:7). The Jews were strict monotheists 
and conceived of God as one person, not three. But the OT revelation 
of the oneness of God was now being expanded to demonstrate that 
God was three in one. Modern interpreters should listen to the 
baptismal command through the ears of the disciples who first heard 
it. These Jewish men were confronted with the trinitarian nature of 
God. The Son and the Holy Spirit were distinguished from the Father 
and made equal with Him. This would receive further support as the 
NT unfolded. However, this occasion in Galilee was a "red-letter day" 
in the progress of revelation. The Jews had rejected the deity of 
Christ and thus the revelation concerning a triune God. The Lord 
commissioned his apostles with a teaching symbol to perpetuate the 
truth that God is a triunity, and thus prevent the Church from 
committing the same error. This doctrinal emphasis is the focus of 
water baptism: the triune God and the relationship of the believer to 
each person in the Godhead. Thus, the trinitarian formula emphasizes 

'^Hendriksen, Matthew, 1001. 


the "distinctively Christian character of this baptism" as compared to 
earlier types of Jewish baptisms.'^ 

Since an ordinance portrays spiritual truth in a physical act, the 
form of the ordinance must correspond to the truth being symbolized. 
Triune immersion best symbolizes the triune God and the believer's 
new relationship with him. 


Does the language of Matt 28:18-20 support the view that the 
doctrinal emphasis in baptism is trinitarian? If so, is triune immersion 
the best mode to portray that doctrinal emphasis? I believe the answer 
to both questions is yes. 

The verb PaTtTii^co points to immersion as the best mode of 
baptism. From the time of Hippocrates, the term was used in the 
sense of "to immerse," with the idea of going under or perishing. It 
could be applied to sinking ships or drowning men.^*^ "Despite asser- 
tions to the contrary, it seems that baptidzo, both in Jewish and 
Christian contexts, normally meant 'immerse,' and that even when it 
became a technical term for baptism, the thought of immersion 
remains [5/f]."^' 

The prepositional phrase PanTi^ovTec; sic; to ovo|xa xoO Traxpoq 
Ktti ToO uioO Ktti ToO dyiou 7rvEU|iaTO(; / 'baptizing in the name of the 
Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit' contains the article before 
each person. Thus each one is distinguished from the others.^' Meyer 
points to the elliptical construction that is found here: 

Had Jesus used the words Tct ovoiaaxa instead of to 6vo|ia, then, 
however much He may have intended the names of three distinct 
persons to be understood. He would still have been liable to be mis- 
apprehended, for it might have been supposed that the plural was 
meant to refer to the various names of each separate person. The 
singular points to the specific name assigned in the text to each of the 
three respectively, so that eiq to 6vo|ia is. of course, to be understood 
both before toO uioC and toO dyiou TrveufxaTO^; comp. Rev. 14:1: to 
ovona auToO Kai to ovofia toC naTpbq auToij. 

"Homer A. Kent, Jr., "The Gospel According to Matthew," in 77?^ Wycliffe Bible 
Commentary (Chicago: Moody, 1962) 1 11; and Tasker, Matthew, 275-76. 

^"Hauck, "BdTtTco," 1. 530. 

"G. R. Beasley-Murray, "Baptism," yV/DA^rn (1967) 144. 

"See Maximilian Zerwick, Biblical Greek (Rome: Scripta Pontificii Instituti Biblici, 
1963) §§ 165, 171, 184. 

"H. a. W. Meyer, Critical and Exegetical Handbook to the Gospel of Matthew 
(Winona Lake: Alpha Publications, 1979; reprint of 6th ed., New York: Funk & 
Wagnalls, 1884) 528. Cf. also Robert G. Bratcher, A Translator's Guide to the Gospel 
of Matthew (London: United Bible Societies, 1981) 375. 

plaster: baptism by triune immersion 389 

Thus, along with the trinitarian doctrine set forth in baptism, the 
grammar as well seems to recognize each of the three persons in the 
Godhead. Motion corresponding to that doctrinal emphasis would be 
appropriate and expected. Those advocating other modes of baptism 
seem to reduce Christ's statement to "baptizing them as you repeat 
this verbal formula." But this assumes a dichotomy between doctrine 
and form which is not substantiated in the text. Jesus was not merely 
employing a verbal formula; he was giving the doctrinal content to 
be symbolized in the act of baptism.^'* The action of triune immersion 
best represents the teaching being set forth since it distinguishes and 
properly recognizes each person of the Godhead. 

historical considerations 

Doctrine cannot be determined by tradition or history. However, 
history can be very helpful in answering important questions about 
how the early Church understood apostolic teaching and practice. 
The testimony of early church history strongly supports the practice 
of triune immersion as the mode of baptism. 

The Didache does not specifically refer to "triune immersion." 
However, it is a very early extra-biblical testimony to the baptismal 
practice of the apostolic churches. 

Concerning baptism, baptize thus: Having first rehearsed all these 
things, "baptize in the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the 
Holy Spirit," in running water; but if thou has no running water, 
baptize in other water, and if thou canst not in cold, then in warm. But 
if thou have neither, pour water three times on the head "in the Name 
of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit."^' 

The requirement of triple action in baptism is clear in this passage. ^^ 

Justin Martyr's (a.d. 110-165) description of baptism even adds 
the elliptical "in the name of" before each person as in its allusion to 
Matt 28:19." Tertullian (a.d. 145-220) states that the candidate for 
baptism is "thrice immersed."^* 

He commands them to be baptized into the name of the Father and of 
the Son and of the Holy Ghost, not into a unipersonal God. And 

"* Alfred Plummer, An Exegetical Commentary on the Gospel According to 
St. Matthew (reprint; Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1956) 433; Allen, Matthew, 307; Meyer, 
Matthew. 529; and Tasker, Matthew, 275. 

"Did. 7. 1-3. 

^^Saucy, 77ie Church in God's Program, 212. 

''Justin Martyr. Apol. 1. 71. 

^*Tertullian. De Corona 3. 


indeed, it is not once only, but three times, at each name, into each 
separate person, that we are immersed."^' 

When Eunomius's innovative single-immersion baptism stressed his 
anti-trinitarian doctrine, an interesting analysis was made by later 
church fathers. Gregory Nanzianzen (a.d. 330-391) observed, 

He, Eunomius, subverted the holy law of baptism which had been 
handed down from the beginning, from the Lord and the apostles, and 
made a contrary law, asserting that it is not necessary to immerse the 
candidate thrice, nor to mention the names of the Trinity, but to 
immerse only once, into the death of Christ/° 

This is echoed by Sozomen in his Ecclesiastical History (6:26) and by 
Socrates in his Ecclesiastical Church History (5:24). Thus, the Council 
of Constantinople in a.d. 381 determined that any bishop who would 
not use three immersions was to be deposed. 

This very brief survey of some of the significant historical evi- 
dence makes it clear that the early church understood the trinitarian 
thrust of Matt 28:19 to require triple -action baptism. 


This evaluation of (1) the evidence concerning the doctrinal 
emphasis of baptism, (2) the correlation of the grammar and language 
of the text with that doctrinal emphasis, and (3) the records of early 
church history points to triune immersion as the best and thus the 
preferred mode of baptism. Together, these suggest that triune immer- 
sion at least be considered as the proper form of Christian baptism. 

"Tertullian, Ad Praxeas 26. 
Gregory Nanzianzen, Theological Orations. 

Grace TheologicalJournal 6.2 {\9S5) 391-401 


Donald Farner 

Evidence from the gospels, 1 Corinthians 11, Jude 12, 2 Pet 2:13, 
and other early Christian literature suggests that the supper that 
formed the context for the first observance of the Eucharist in the 
upper room was not the Passover. Rather, the supper had special 
significance and was intended to be perpetuated. This reasoning is 
substantiated by the dynamic unity between the supper and the 
Eucharist and by the nature of sacrificial meals. 


IT is the purpose of this study to demonstrate from the Scriptures 
that the supper meal shared in the upper room by Jesus and his 
disciples had both a symbolic ceremonial significance for the church 
and an authorization for perpetuation in the church. Four lines of 
evidence substantiate this claim: 

1. The Gospel Model 

2. The Apostolic Record of Perpetuation 

3. The Dynamic Unity of the Supper and the Eucharist 

4. The Apostolic Authority for its Practice 


The Supper was not the Passover Supper 

Many dismiss the meal in the upper room as part of the com- 
munion ordinance by declaring that it was the Passover meal and that 
therefore, while it was significant for Israel, it only provided a setting 
for the Eucharist. They see no permanent significance in the supper 
itself. However, it can be demonstrated that the NT teaches that the 
supper was not the Passover and that it was not the occasion for the 
eating of the Passover lamb.' Constructing a harmony of the passages 

'Those who support this position include Homer A. Kent., Jr. (Studies in the 
Gospel of Mark [Winona Lake: BMH, 1981] 122; and "Matthew" in The Wydiffe 


that present the time relationship of the upper room supper and the 
Passover shows that Jesus' observance was not the Passover meal. 
This is indicated by the following observations: 

1. John 13:1: Jesus arose from supper "before the Feast of the 

2. Mark 14:17: the evening referred to at this point is the begin- 
ning of the Day of Preparation which began at 6:00 p.m. 

3. Luke 22:14-16: the reading of the Greek text preferred by 
many textual critics^ says that Jesus, while expressing his desire 
to eat this Passover with his disciples, emphatically declares 
(ou |if)) that he would not eat it until it was fulfilled in the 
kingdom of God. 

4. All four gospels note that Jesus was reclining at the table with 
his disciples. The Passover supper was to be eaten in haste 
while standing with staff in hand (Exod 12:1 1). The lamb eaten 
was to be "roasted with fire" (Exod 12:8-9) rather than boiled 
or stewed as for a sop. 

5. John 13:29: during the supper the disciples supposed that 
Judas, when told by Jesus, "what thou doest, do quickly," was 
going to buy things needed for the feast. Where would one 
find a store open in Jerusalem on the Passover night? Further- 
more, why would he buy things for the Passover meal which 
was already in progress? It would be appropriate and possible 
to buy such supplies on the Preparation Day of the Passover.^ 

6. John 18:28: after the supper, in fact, the next morning, the 
Jews would not enter the Praetorium because they did not want 
to defile themselves and thus not be able to eat the still future 
Passover meal. 

Bible Commentary [Charles F. Pfeiffer and Everett F. Harrison, eds.; Chicago: Moody, 
1962] 96 and C. F. Yoder {God's Means of Grace [Elgin: Brethren Publishing House, 
1908] 286-95). Those arguing for the identification of this meal with the Passover 
include Joachim Jeremias {The Eucharistic Words of Jesus [Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 
1955] 1-57) and Bertold Klappert ("Lord's Supper" [NIDNTT] 2. 527-29). Those 
supporting a Passover meal but on a different timetable include 1. Howard Marshall 
{Last Supper and Lord's Supper [Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1980] 57-75) and Harold 
Hoehner {Chronological Aspects of the Life of Christ [Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 
1977] 85-90). Cf. also David R. Plaster, Ordinances: What Are r/?^' (Winona Lake: 
BMH, 1985)61, 127-28. 

'Bruce M. Metzger, A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament (New 
York: United Bible Societies, 1971) 173-77. The reading preferred is ou lifi cpdyco rather 
than OUK8TI ou \ir\ cpdya). 

Leon Morris (The Gospel According to John [NICNT; Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 
1971] 2. 628) admits that the words could mean that the Passover lay ahead. William 
Hendriksen {Exposition of the Gospel According to John [Grand Rapids: Baker, 1953- 
54] 2. 249) argues from silence against open shops. 

farner: the lord's supper until he comes 393 

7. John 19:14: the Preparation Day spoken of in all the gospels is 
here identified as "the Preparation Day for the Passover" 
rather than Friday, the usual preparation day for the weekly 
Sabbath. Many hours after the supper in the upper room it is 
still this Preparation Day for the Passover. The sixth hour 
according to Roman reckoning was about 6:00 a-m."* 

8. John 19:31, 42: the Sabbath to which the Preparation Day was 
related in this context is called "A High Day" along with being 
identified as the Passover in v 14.^ Jesus is dead and buried 
and it is still the Preparation Day of the Passover. In fact, the 
Jewish leaders wanted him buried before the Preparation Day 
ended and the Passover began. 

9. Mark 15:24-25: Jesus was crucified at the third hour (9:00 
a.m.) on the Day of Preparation. Thus it was noon when 
darkness fell upon the land (Mark 15:33; Luke 23:44). 

10. Mark 15:34: at the ninth hour (3:00 p.m.) with only three 
hours remaining on the Day of Preparation, Jesus cried out. 
This was the time for the Passover lamb to be slain at the 
Temple (1 Cor 5:7).' 

11. Luke 23:54: Jesus' body was laid in the tomb on the Prepara- 
tion Day nearing 6:00 p.m. when the "High" Sabbath, the 
Passover itself, would begin. The lamb would be eaten soon. 
John 19:42 adds that the nearby tomb had to be used "on 
account of the Jewish day